Identifying Minerals with Chemical and Crystallographic Data

Kent Ratajeski
Published Jan. 25, 2005


What is this common oxide mineral? Would you Details

In this exercise, crystal structure data for a variety of unknown minerals are downloaded and entered into a visualization program (either XtalDraw or CrystalMaker). Through a series of directed questions for each unknown, students investigate and manipulate the crystal structure to gather information about its possible identity. This exercise builds on a wide variety of content normally covered over an entire introductory mineralogy course, and could be used as a self-study exercise to help mineralogy students prepare for a comprehensive final exam.

This exercise is one of several examples featured in the Teaching Mineralogy with Crystal Structure Databases and Visualization Software module at SERC. Each example is designed to give instructors and students direct practice for using crystal structure databases and visualization programs to teach crystallography and mineralogy in the earth sciences. Students should begin with the Select Your Visualization Software.

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