Earth's "missing" minerals

Robert M. Hazen, Grethe Hystad, Robert T Downs, Joshua J. Golden, Alex J. Pires, Edward S. Grew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent studies of mineral diversity and distribution lead to the prediction of >1563 mineral species on Earth today that have yet to be described-approximately one fourth of the 6394 estimated total mineralogical diversity. The distribution of these "missing" minerals is not uniform with respect to their essential chemical elements. Of 15 geochemically diverse elements (Al, B, C, Cr, Cu, Mg, Na, Ni, P, S, Si, Ta, Te, U, and V), we predict that approximately 25% of the minerals of Al, B, C, Cr, P, Si, and Ta remain to be described-a percentage similar to that predicted for all minerals. Almost 35% of the minerals of Na are predicted to be undiscovered, a situation resulting from more than 50% of Na minerals being white, poorly crystallized, and/or water soluble, and thus easily overlooked. In contrast, we predict that fewer than 20% of the minerals of Cu, Mg, Ni, S, Te, U, and V remain to be discovered. In addition to the economic value of most of these elements, their minerals tend to be brightly colored and/or well crystallized, and thus likely to draw attention and interest. These disparities in percentages of undiscovered minerals reflect not only natural processes, but also sociological factors in the search, discovery, and description of mineral species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2344-2347
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Mineralogist
Volume100
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

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Minerals
Earth (planet)
minerals
mineral
Chemical elements
chemical elements
chemical element
Polysilicon
economics
Economics
Water
prediction
predictions

Keywords

  • chance vs. necessity
  • Mineral diversity
  • mineral ecology
  • mineral evolution
  • nickel
  • philosophy of mineralogy
  • sociology of mineralogy
  • sodium
  • tellurium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics

Cite this

Hazen, R. M., Hystad, G., Downs, R. T., Golden, J. J., Pires, A. J., & Grew, E. S. (2015). Earth's "missing" minerals. American Mineralogist, 100(10), 2344-2347. https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2015-5417

Earth's "missing" minerals. / Hazen, Robert M.; Hystad, Grethe; Downs, Robert T; Golden, Joshua J.; Pires, Alex J.; Grew, Edward S.

In: American Mineralogist, Vol. 100, No. 10, 01.10.2015, p. 2344-2347.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hazen, RM, Hystad, G, Downs, RT, Golden, JJ, Pires, AJ & Grew, ES 2015, 'Earth's "missing" minerals', American Mineralogist, vol. 100, no. 10, pp. 2344-2347. https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2015-5417
Hazen RM, Hystad G, Downs RT, Golden JJ, Pires AJ, Grew ES. Earth's "missing" minerals. American Mineralogist. 2015 Oct 1;100(10):2344-2347. https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2015-5417
Hazen, Robert M. ; Hystad, Grethe ; Downs, Robert T ; Golden, Joshua J. ; Pires, Alex J. ; Grew, Edward S. / Earth's "missing" minerals. In: American Mineralogist. 2015 ; Vol. 100, No. 10. pp. 2344-2347.
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