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Natural chemical compounds can be solid, liquid, or gaseous. Solids, liquids, or natural gases may be composed of individual elements or contain many elements in the form of molecules.
Liquids: Perhaps the most important liquid in the world is water. Water, which is made up of hydrogen and oxygen, behaves differently from many other liquids, such as expanding when it freezes. This natural chemical behavior has a profound effect on the geology, geography, and biology of the earth and certainly other planets.
Solids: Every solid substance found in the natural world is made up of these substances. Plant fibers, animal bones, rocks, and soil are all composed of Chemicals compounds. Some minerals, such as Copper and zinc, are made entirely of the same element, but Granite is an example of igneous rock composed of several different elements.
Minerals are categorized based on their chemical composition. Owing to similarities in composition, minerals within a same group may have similar characteristics. Minerals are everywhere! Figure 2. 1 below shows some common household items and the minerals used to make them. Baseball bats and bicycle frames both contain minerals. Scientists have identified more than 4,000 minerals in Earth’s crust. 1: Silver and halite are minerals; the mineral quartz is used to make glass. Geologists have a very specific definition for minerals. Minerals can be identified by their characteristic physical properties such as crystalline structure, hardness, streak, and cleavage. Minerals are crystalline solids. Minerals are made by natural processes, those that occur in or on Earth. 5%) of Earth’s crust is made up of only eight elements – oxygen, silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium – and these are the elements that make up most minerals. All minerals have a specific chemical composition. The mineral silver is made up of only silver atoms and diamond is made only of carbon atoms, but most minerals are made up of chemical compounds. Quartz is always made of two oxygen atoms bonded to a silicon atom, SiO2. A hard mineral containing covalently bonded carbon is diamond, but a softer mineral that also contains calcium and oxygen along with carbon is calcite (Figure below). The structure of calcite shows the relationship of calcium (Ca), carbon (C), and oxygen (O). Some minerals have a range of chemical composition. Olivine always has silicon and oxygen as well as iron or magnesium or both, (Mg, Fe)2SiO4. How physical properties are used to identify minerals is described in the lesson on Mineral Formation. Minerals are divided into groups based on chemical composition. Most minerals fit into one of eight mineral groups. The roughly 1,000 silicate minerals make up over 90% of Earth’s crust. Feldspar and quartz are the two most common silicate minerals. Both are extremely common rock-forming minerals. The basic building block for all silicate minerals is the silica tetrahedron, which is illustrated in Figure below. To create the wide variety of silicate minerals, this pyramid-shaped structure is often bound to other elements, such as calcium, iron, and magnesium. One silicon atom bonds to four oxygen atoms to form a silica tetrahedron. The different ways that silica tetrahedrons can join together cause these two minerals to look very different. Only a small number of minerals are found in this category. Some of the minerals in this group are rare and valuable. The basic carbonate structure is one carbon atom bonded to three oxygen atoms. Carbonates include other elements, such as calcium, iron, and copper. Azurite and malachite, shown in the Figure below, are carbonates that contain copper instead of calcium. Two carbonate minerals: (a) deep blue azurite and (b) opaque green malachite. Halide minerals are salts that form when salt water evaporates. The chemical elements known as the halogens (fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine) bond with various metallic atoms to make halide minerals (seeFigure below). Oxides contain one or two metal elements combined with oxygen. Hematite (Fe2O3), with two iron atoms to three oxygen atoms, and magnetite (Fe3O4) (Figure below), with three iron atoms to four oxygen atoms, are both iron oxides. Phosphate minerals are similar in atomic structure to the silicate minerals. In the phosphates, phosphorus, arsenic, or vanadium bond to oxygen to form a tetrahedra. There are many different minerals in the phosphate group, but most are rare (Figure below). Turquoise is a phosphate mineral containing copper, aluminum, and phosphorus. Sulfate minerals contain sulfur atoms bonded to oxygen atoms. The sulfate group contains many different minerals, but only a few are common. Unlike sulfates, sulfides do not contain oxygen. People may mistake pyrite for gold because the two minerals are shiny, metallic, and yellow in color.