Most minerals can be characterized and also classified through their distinct physical properties: hardness, luster, color, streak, details gravity, cleavage, fracture, and tenacity.

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Hardness

The capacity to withstand being scratched—or hardness—is among the most useful properties because that identifying minerals. Hardness is identified by the ability of one mineral to scratch another. Federick Mohs, a German mineralogist, created a hardness scale (table 5) making use of a set of ten conventional minerals. The scale arranges the minerals in bespeak of increasing hardness. Every higher-numbered (harder) mineral will certainly scratch any mineral with a lower number (softer).

A rough measure that mineral hardness can be made by assembling a kit of handy objects (table 6). A fingernail has actually a hardness varying from 2 to 2.5, a penny is a little harder than 3, window glass arrays from 5.5 to about 6 in hardness, and a knife blade is typically in the selection of 5 come 6.5.

HardnessMineralCommon ar test
1TalcEasily scratched v a fingernail
2GypsumScratched by a fingernail (2.5)
3CalciteScratched by a penny (3)
4FluoriteDifficult to scratch by a nail (4); scratched quickly by a knife (5)
5ApatiteDifficult to scratch with a knife (>5); proper scratches glass (5.5)
6FeldsparScratched by a steel paper (6.5); quickly scratches glass
7QuartzScratches a steel document and glass
8TopazDifficult to check in the field
9CorundumDifficult to test in the field
10DiamondDifficult to test in the field

Creating a Mineral Hardness check Kit

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A mineral hardness check kit can be easily created from typical household or hardware item (table 6). Parents should assist children do the kit. Wear security glasses and gloves as soon as cutting class. All piece in the hardness check kit need to be compared to one another and details minerals v a known hardness.

Approximate HardnessItem
1Blackboard Chalk
2.5Fingernail
3Copper penny
4Common nail
5.5-6.5Pocket knife
5.5Window glass (2 inch square; usage caution do this scrape plate. Ice the edges of the glass through duct tape. Friend may be able to get this cut at a local hardware store.)
6.5Steel paper or tempered steel. Shot to discover an old, broken or worn level file

Luster

Luster is exactly how a mineral reflects light. The state metallic and nonmetallic explain the an easy types of luster. Table 7 list the most typical terms provided to explain luster and an example of a equivalent mineral. Part minerals that don"t exhibition luster are referred to as "earthy," "chalky," or "dull."

Color

One of the most noticeable properties that a mineral is color. Shade should be thought about when identify a mineral, however should never be supplied as the major identifying characteristic.

Streak

Streak is the shade of the powdered mineral, i m sorry is usually more useful for identification than the shade of the whole mineral sample. Rubbing the mineral ~ above a streak plate will develop a streak. A streak plate have the right to be make from the unglazed back side of a white porcelain restroom or kitchen tile. Some minerals won"t streak since they are harder than the streak plate.

Specific Gravity

Specific heaviness is the ratio in between the fixed (weight) the a mineral and the massive (weight) that an equal volume of water. A mineral"s specific gravity (SG) can be figured out by dividing its load in air by the load of an equal volume that water. Because that instance, quartz with a thickness of 2.65 is 2.65 time as hefty as the very same volume the water.


Cleavage

The way in i beg your pardon a mineral breaks along smooth flat planes is called cleavage. This breaks happen along airplane of weakness in the mineral"s structure. However, if a mineral breaks follow me an irregular surface, it does not have actually cleavage.

Fracture

When a mineral breaks irregularly, the breaks are dubbed fractures. The breaks deserve to be described as grainy, hackly (jagged), conchoidal (curved), or splintery.

Tenacity

How well a mineral resists not correct is well-known as tenacity. Tenacity is described using these terms:

Brittle - Mineral crushes come angular fragments (quartz).Malleable - Mineral can be modification in form without breaking and also can be planarization to a thin sheet (copper, gold).Sectile - Mineral have the right to be reduced with a knife into thin shavings (talc).Flexible - Mineral bends yet doesn"t gain back its shape when released (selenite, gypsum).Elastic - Mineral bends and regains its original shape as soon as released (muscovite and also biotite mica).

See more: How Do You Weigh An Electrically Charged Atom Is An Electrical Charge

Other Diagnostic Characteristics

Other features may be valuable in identifying some minerals:

Transparency - Objects space visible as soon as viewed v a mineral.Translucency - Light, however not one image, is transmitted v a mineral.Opaqueness - No irradiate is sent , also on the thinnest edges.Taste - Taste have the right to be used to aid identify some minerals, such together halite (salt).Acid reaction - thing reacts to hydrochloric acid. The most separating characteristic the calcite is the it effervesces when hydrochloric mountain is applied. Dolomite reflects a reaction top top a freshly broken or powdered surface. Experimentation for calcite, limestone, or dolomite calls because that 10% hydrochloric acid, but solid white vinegar have the right to be substituted because that the acid.Magnetism - Magnetism is a distinguishing characteristic that magnetite.Crystal shape - Cubic, rhombohedral (tilted cube), hexagonal (six-sided), etc. Part crystal forms are shown below.

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