50 minerals to see before you die

I’m not sure I’m really wise in jumping on this meme (started by Chuck and taken up by Hypocentre, Silver Fox and Callan), because I have a feeling I’m going to end up feeling a little inadequate; my heavy does of physics as an undergraduate means my mineral identification skills are a little underdeveloped.
50 minerals everyone should see (bold=seen in the wild, italic=seen in captivity, be it lab, museum or some other non-field location):
Andalusite
Apatite
Barite
Beryl
Biotite
Chromite
Chrysotile
Cordierite
Corundum
Diamond*
Dolomite
Florencite
Galena
Garnet
Graphite
Gypsum
Halite
Haematite
Hornblende
Illite
Illmenite
Kaolinite
Kyanite
Lepidolite
Limonite
Magnetite
Molybdenite
Monazite
Nepheline
Olivine
Omphacite
Opal
Perovskite
Plagioclase
Pyrite
Quartz
Rutile
Sanidine
Sillimanite
Silver (native)
Sphalerite
Staurolite
Sulphur (native)
Talc
Tourmaline
Tremolite
Turquoise
Vermiculite
Willemite
Zeolite
Zircon
*I have visited diamond-bearing alluvial gravels in western South Africa, but we weren’t allowed to touch anything.
I’ve stuck with Chuck’s original list, although I note that, in true geologist style, most peoples’ responses have more than a hint of ‘you didn’t mean that 50, you meant this 50!’. Perhaps I should have added in more magnetic minerals – and I am disappointed by the lack of epidote, which is the same colour as pistachio nuts and therefore has pleasurable associations for me.
Of course, for some of these, a field identification would be quite an achievement; I’ve doubtless visited outcrops containing thousands upon thousands of zircons, since they are pretty much indestructible and are therefore found in many igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, but spotting one is a little challenging…

Categories: geology, rocks & minerals

Comments (7)

  1. sara says:

    Why is not uvarovite on the list? I think that it should be separate from garnet, on the list at least.

  2. KH says:

    Ehm (chemist clears her throat and looks around nervously)…zeolite???…and which one in particular would you mean by that? Perhaps ferrierite from Kamloops in British Columbia, or maybe a little chabazite? Perhaps sodalite in the form of lapis lazuli? I live with a zeolite chemist, someone’s got to, but I’m there when he buys rocks of eBay, and I’ve been dragged on excursions to Kamloops to look for decrepit old zeolite mines in rattlesnake territory. I dread to think of what he might have in mind next!
    Going back to the lab bench now…

  3. Silver Fox says:

    Sodalite is a member of the Sodalite Group of minerals, and is not usually considered part of the Zeolite Group of minerals, but is considered to be a feldspathoid. Good lapis lazuli is made primarily of lazurite, another member of the Sodalite Group.

  4. flounder says:

    Isn’t limonite what you see on a rusty tool or an old car. 1970′s beer can. That’s the wild to me.

  5. How could you forget the mineral with the greatest name ever? Cummingtonite!
    Double chain inosilicates
    Cumingtonite series
    Cummingtonite – Fe2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2

  6. Sorry, that should have come out as: Cummingtonite – Fe2Mg5Si8O22(OH)2
    Well, would you expect a history major and practicing public historian (someday I’ll get it right) to get it right the first time?

  7. CherryBomb says:

    [cough, cough] You cannot properly call yourself if you are not able to recognize GOLD. In my sophomore year in college, my minerology prof actually stumped everyone in the class with a sample. (Except for me, lol. But only because I grew up around abandoned gold mines.)