How Do We Categorize Minerals?
There are thousands of different kinds of minerals. Fortunately, they have systematic properties that allow geologists to organize them in a manner that makes it easier to understand their variety. Minerals belong to one of a variety of classes. These classes are based on the elements and crystal structure of a mineral.
Some common mineral classes include:
All minerals within a mineral class are similar, but they also have important differences. For example, calcite (calcium carbonate), rhodochrosite (manganese carbonate), and siderite (iron carbonate) are all different kinds of carbonates. They all have the same carbon atom surrounded by three oxygen atoms, but they also have different atoms, such as manganese, iron, or calcium.