Geology or Related Geological Terms +

(a glossary, or dictionary, of terms used in geology; the science of the earth including its origin, composition, structure, and history)

gypsum mineral
1. One of the more common minerals in sedimentary environments used in plaster, wall board, some cements, fertilizer, paint filler, ornamental stone, etc.
2. A common white or colorless mineral (hydrated calcium sulphate) used to make cements and plasters; especially, plaster of Paris.
in situ
1. In its natural or original place.
2. In the original position
joint (s), joints (pl)
Smoothly curved fracture, or fractures, in a rock.

Joints can be small or up to thousands of feet long. Hundreds of joints may appear in a single outcropping of rock.

A joint system consists of two or more sets of joints that are arranged in characteristic patterns; such as, concentric, radial, etc.

The jointing of rock formations is a major factor of geological changes resulting from weathering and erosion.

The movement of the rock at right angles to this fracture can produce an open joint, or fissure. If the movement of the rocks of a joint is parallel to the surface of the fractures, the resulting break is classified as a fault.

Mohs scale, Mohs hardness scale
A standard of ten minerals by which mineral hardness may be rated: from the softest to the hardest on a scale of 1 to 10:
    Mohs hardness scale:
  1. talc (absolute hardness = 1): a fine grained mineral having a soft soapy feel and consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate; used in a variety of products including talcum powder.
  2. gypsum (absolute hardness = 3): a common white or colorless mineral (hydrated calcium sulphate) used to make cements and plasters; especially, plaster of Paris.
  3. calcite (absolute hardness = 9): a colorless or white crystalline mineral that is a form of calcium carbonate from limestone, marble, chalk and used in cement, plaster, glass, and paints.
  4. fluorite (absolute hardness = 21): a variously colored crystalline mineral consisting of calcium fluoride; a chief source of fluorine.

    It is considered to be a beautiful transparent mineral found in many parts of the world; however, although pure fluorite is colorless, it often has trace elements in the mineral resulting in purple, blue, green, red, and yellow colors.

  5. apatite (absolute hardness = 48): a glassy, variously colored calcium phosphate mineral used in fertilizers and as a source of phosphorus.
  6. orthoclase (absolute hardness = 72): a variously colored feldspar, a common white or pink mineral having two good cleavages at right angles, and found in silica-rich igneous rocks; used in the manufacture of porcelain.

    Feldspar consists of silicates of aluminum with potassium, sodium, calcium, and, rarely, barium. About 60 percent of the earth's outer crust is composed of feldspar.

  7. quartz (absolute hardness = 100): one of the most common minerals, silicon dioxide, having many varieties that differ in color, luster, etc., and occurring either in masses (as agate, bloodstone, chalcedony, jasper, etc.) or in crystals (as rock crystal, amethyst, citrine, etc.).

    It is the chief constituent of sand and sandstone, and an important constituent of many other rocks. It is piezoelectric and used to control the frequencies of radio transmitters.

  8. topaz (absolute hardness = 400): a colorless, blue, yellow, brown, or pink aluminum silicate mineral, often found in association with granitic rocks and valued as a gemstone; especially, in the brown and pink varieties.
  9. corundum (absolute hardness = 400): a hard mineral form of alumina that crystallizes into a range of colors and is used as gems and abrasives.
  10. diamond (absolute hardness = 1600): a pure or nearly pure, extremely hard form of carbon, naturally crystallized in the isometric system used as a hard transparent precious stone that is used for gems, abrasives, and cutting tools.
  11. The scale is not regular in the sequence of hardness in that diamond, at number 10, the hardest natural substance is four times harder in absolute terms than corundum, at number 9.

    Here is a mnemonic that might help you remember the sequence of the Mohs scale: The Geologist Can Find An Ordinary Quartz, (that) Tourists Call Diamond!

—This information was compiled from several sources including:

Encyclopedia Britannica; William Benton, Publisher; Chicago;
1968; Volume 15, page 647.

Glossary of Geology, 3rd ed.; Robert Bates and Julia Jackson;
American Geological Institute; Alexandria, Virginia;
1987; page 428.

Asimov's New Guide to Science; by Isaac Asimov;
Basic Books, Inc., Publishers; New York; 1984; pages 306-307.

Reader's Digest Book of Facts, Editor: Edmund H. Harvey, Jr.;
The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.; Pleasantville, New York; 1987; page 360.
The process of mountain formation with the folding, faulting, and uplift of the earth's crust to form mountain ranges, often accompanied by volcanic and seismic activity.
orthoclase mineral
A polymorph of other minerals that share the same chemistry, but have different crystal structures.

Used as mineral specimens and in the porcelain industry.

plate tectonics
A theory that unifies many of the features and characteristics of continental drift and seafloor spreading into a coherent model and has revolutionized geologists' understanding of continents, ocean basins, mountains, and earth history.

A theory that the earth's lithosphere, the crust and upper portion of the mantle, is divided into about twelve large plates and several small ones which float on and travel independently over the asthenosphere (region in the upper mantle of the earth's interior, characterized by low-density, semiplastic, or partially molten rock material chemically similar to the overlying lithosphere).

The theory revolutionized the geological sciences in the 1960's by combining the earlier idea of continental drift and the new concept of seafloor spreading into a coherent whole.

Each plate consists of rigid rock created by upwelling magma at oceanic ridges, where plates diverge. Where two plates converge, a subduction zone forms, in which one plate is forced under another and into the Earth's mantle.

The majority of the earthquakes and volcanoes on the earth's surface occur along the margins of tectonic plates. The interior of a plate moves as a rigid body, with only minor flexing, few earthquakes, and relatively little volcanic activity.

talc mineral
Used as an ornamental and heat, acid and electrically-resistant stone (soapstone) used as counter tops, electrical switchboards, carvings, etc.; as an ingredient in paints, rubber, roofing materials, ceramics, and insecticides. Most commonly known as the primary ingredient in talcum powder.
topaz mineral
A common gemstone that has been used for centuries in jewelry and its optical properties are useful in industry.

Index of additional Scientific and Technological Topics.