Mineral Background Sheet

Adapted from Women in Mining Education Foundation Activities

The following is a description of some of the Physical Properties that are used to identify minerals:

Luster

Does it shine? How much?

Cleavage or Fracture

Does the mineral show regular surfaces or planes? (Cleavage)

Or, does the mineral have an irregular, broken surface? (Fracture)

Magnetic Attraction

Was the mineral attracted to a magnet? Yes / No

Color

What is the dominant color of the mineral?

Streak

When you scratched the mineral across the streak plate (the porcelain), what color was the streak?

Feel

What was the texture of the mineral? Was it:

Hardness

Mohs Scale of Hardness
1 (softest) Feels soapy or greasy
2 Scratched by fingernail (hardness = 2.5)
3 Scratched by penny
4 Can scratch a penny
5 Scratched by steel nail (hardness = 5.5)
6 Can scratch steel
7-10 (hardest) Can scratch glass

Specific Gravity

This property is the weight of the mineral relative to the weight of an equal volume of water. Minerals with a high specific gravity feel heavy for their size.