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What are Silicate Minerals?

rough eudialyte mineral

Silicates Most Important Minerals on Earth

The silicate group of minerals make up the largest and most important class of rock-forming minerals.

Understanding their structure enables geologists to identify almost all rocks on Earth.  This is possible because they contain the most common minerals.

Silicates make up the majority of Earth's crust.  They're made up of silicon and oxygen atoms arranged in a pattern called a silicate tetrahedron.  These are the building blocks for many different types of silicate minerals.

The building blocks can be arranged in different ways to form different minerals.

Some examples of common silicates include quartz, feldspar, mica and olivine.

Silicates tend to be hard and durable which makes them particularly useful for construction materials such as bricks and concrete. They're also used in the production of glass and ceramics.

The chemical bonds that hold the atoms in silicate minerals together are very strong so are not easily broken by external factors.  For this reason these minerals are fairly resistant to chemical weathering.  

Silicates can be found in many different types of rock including granite, sandstone and basalt. They're also found in many types of soil.

Article Photo

The photo in our article is the silicate mineral eudialyte. It's courtesy of Ron Wolf.  The image is clickable and redirects to the original photo.

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