Mineralogy is the study of chemistry, crystal structure, and physical (including optical) properties of minerals. Specific studies within mineralogy include the processes of mineral origin and formation, classification of minerals, their geographical distribution, as well as their utilization. Early writing on mineralogy, especially on gemstones, comes from ancient Babylonia, the ancient Greco-Roman world, ancient and medieval China, and Sanskrit texts from ancient India and the ancient Islamic World.
A mineral is a naturally occurring solid chemical substance that is formed through geological processes and that has a characteristic chemical composition, a highly ordered atomic structure, and specific physical properties.
By comparison, a rock is an aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids and does not have a specific chemical composition. Minerals range in composition from pure elements and simple salts to very complex silicates with thousands of known forms. To be classified as a true mineral, a substance must be a solid and have a crystalline structure. It must also be a naturally occurring, homogeneous substance with a defined chemical composition.
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