Many minerals are coveted around the world for their striking beauty, rarity, and gem quality. But what is a mineral?

A mineral is a solid, naturally occurring, inorganic substance that generally forms crystals. They are the building blocks of rocks and are described based on their physical properties which include: luster, cleavage, streak, hardness, color, and specific gravity.

  • Cleavage: The tendency of a mineral to break along weak planes.
  • Color: Most minerals have a distinctive color while others are variable in color.
  • Hardness: A measure of a mineral's resistance to scratching. This is measured by scratching it against another substance of known hardness on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • Luster:The reflection of light from the surface of a mineral, described by its quality and intensity. Luster is described as metallic, glassy, dull, earthy, etc.
  • Nonsilicate minerals: A mineral without silicon (Si).
  • Silicate: Refers to the chemical unit silicon tetroxide, SiO4, the fundamental building block of silicate minerals. Silicate minerals make up most rocks we see at the Earth's surface.
  • Streak: Streak refers to the color of the residue left by scratching a mineral on a tile of unglazed porcelain.

Common Minerals 

  • Quartz
  • Potassium Feldspar
  • Plagioclase Feldspar
  • Mica
  • Amphibole
  • Olivine
  • Calcite
  • Talc
  • Fluorite
  • Quartz is one of the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. It is made of silicon dioxide (SiO2), otherwise known as silica. Varieties of quartz based on color include: amethyst, smoky quartz, rose quartz, and citrine. Quartz has a glassy luster and a hardness of 7.


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