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MINERAL MATTERSMINERAL MATTERS
HOW TO IDENTIFY MINERALS

Introduction
Color
Streak
Transparency
Luster
Hardness
Cleavage
Fracture
Specific Gravity
Crystal Form

Mineral Matters
Regional Minerals

Color

Usually, we notice the color of a mineral first. Some minerals are easily identified by color because they are never any other color. For example, malachite is always green. Keep in mind, however, that color by itself isn't enough to identify a mineral. Chemical impurities can change the color of a mineral without changing its basic make-up. For example, quartz in its purest form is colorless and clear as glass. Quartz with traces of iron becomes violet (amethyst). With traces of manganese, it turns pink (rose quartz). If quartz is exposed to radiation, it turns brown (smoky quartz).



Photo: Malachite (conchoidal fracture, left) and malachite with azurite (right).
Collection of the San Diego Natural History Museum

Photo credit: Linda West

Mineral Matters | Kids' Habitat

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