What are the differences between rocks and minerals?

A mineral is a single-component solid. Rock is a composite of various elements. Minerals exist naturally in the ground in the form of crystalline crystals with distinct geometrical shapes. However, rocks do not have distinct geometrical forms.

Graphite, Dolomite, Feldspar, Ilmenite, Mica, and Quartz are some examples of minerals. Examples of rocks include Granite and Gneiss.


Mineralogy is the science of studying minerals. Mineralogists are those who research minerals. Minerals can be characterized and classed based on their physical qualities, which include:

  • habit – Crystal structure and shape
  • Hardness
  • Lustre
  • Colour
  • Translucency
  • Cleavage
  • Density

The International Mineralogical Association has recognized the existence of over 5400 distinct minerals (IMA). This multinational organization is in charge of identifying minerals and validating new mineral discoveries.

  • Feldspar
  • Dolomite
  • Quartz
  • Ilmenite
  • Mica
  • Graphite

The picture below demonstrates several minerals.

Uses of minerals

Base metals, industrial minerals, and precious metals are examples of valuable minerals. Base metals, such as copper and nickel, are metals that do not include iron. Minerals that do not contain any metals are known as industrial minerals. Precious metals are valuable metals such as gold, iron, and platinum.

Graphite is an elemental carbon and it has a mineral structure. It is created at significantly lower pressures. It forms a nice erasable mark; therefore, we use it to manufacture pencils. It can also be used as a lubricant powder.

The principal mineral present in sand, quartz, is melted to produce glass. Feldspar is a popular raw material used in the manufacture of glass, ceramics, and fiberglass for insulation, as well as an enhancer in paint, plastics. Sheet and block mica are mostly used as electrical insulators in electronic equipment, thermal insulation in heaters, and for decorative purposes.

Dolomite is utilized as a source of magnesia (MgO) and as an animal feed ingredient. It is a material in the manufacture of glass, and ceramics. Dolomite is used as a calcium and magnesium supplement, and it also offers important nutrients to plants.

Titanium dioxide, which is used in paints, plastics, rubber, and the pharmaceutical sector, is mostly derived from ilmenite.


Rocks are classified into three types based on how they were generated naturally on Earth.

  • Igneous rocks
  • Sedimentary rock
  • Metamorphic rocks

Formation of Igneous rocks

The temperature is around 5000 degrees Celsius about 30 kilometers beneath the earth’s crust. The rocks molt and live-in liquid form as a result of the high temperature. Magma is the liquid form of rocks. Magma spews forth after a volcanic eruption, and when it reaches the earth’s surface, it is known as “lava.”

When lava cools, it hardens to produce igneous rocks. Igneous rocks are extremely hard. Igneous rocks include granite and basalt.

Formation of Sedimentary rocks

Sunlight, rain, and wind all have an effect on rocks, causing them to break up into little fragments.

This is known as rock weathering. Rain and wind take these fragments of rock to other locations, where they settle in strata on land, in rivers, or in the sea. A variety of different materials are deposited on these layers. The weight of the top layers causes the lower layers to tighten, resulting in the formation of sedimentary rocks.

Examples of sedimentary rocks are Mudstone, Conglomerate, Siltstone, Sandstone.

Sedimentary rocks are softer than igneous rocks. The skeletons of marine organisms, such as oysters, settle on the seafloor. When they are exposed to pressure, limestone is formed. Limestone is known as a sedimentary rock.

Formation of Metamorphic rocks

Igneous and sedimentary rocks can deposit deep inside the ground for a variety of reasons, including earthquakes. These igneous and sedimentary rocks undergo metamorphism when exposed to extreme pressure and temperature.

Metamorphism occurs in limestone, a sedimentary rock, and marble is created.

Metamorphism of granite, an igneous rock, results in the formation of gneiss.

Weathering of rocks

When the ground is dug at one point, it becomes impossible to dig farther due to a rock. It is the foundation and it is known as bedrock. As a result, we might speculate that this rock had a role in the formation of soil.

The rocks on Earth break apart and become soil for a variety of causes. This is referred to as rock weathering.

There are three types of rock weathering.

  • Physical/mechanical Weathering
  • Chemical deterioration
  • Biological weathering

Physical weathering is the process through which rocks are broken into little pieces as a result of physical causes such as heat, wind, and running water. Physical weathering happens in a variety of ways.

The heat of the sun heats the rocks during the day and cools them at night. In addition, quick rainfall will cool down these hot rocks. This heating and cooling action cause rocks to shatter. Minerals in rocks expand and contract as a result of heating and cooling. These expansions and contractions do not occur at the same rate. As a result, the rock fragments become loose and are removed.

Rock weathering is caused by chemicals in the environment. Chemical weathering is the process through which rocks change shape by interacting with water, acids, and oxygen.

Carbon dioxide turns acidic when it dissolves in water. Currently, the proportion of Sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere has grown. When Sulphur dioxide dissolves in water, it produces a very acidic solution. When rocks react with acidic rainwater, the weather.

Weathering occurs as a result of plant and animal activity. It is called biological weathering.

When a tree root penetrates a hole in a rock, it gets larger and larger until the rock cracks.

The Rock Cycle

The rock cycle refers to the continuous process through which the three types of rocks are formed and change from one form to another.

The rock cycle steps are listed below.

  1. As a result of volcanic eruptions, the magma cools and igneous rocks develop.
  2. Igneous rocks weather and deposit in a variety of locations across the world to become sedimentary rocks.
  3. As a result of earthquakes, sedimentary rocks sink deep into the earth and transform into metamorphic rocks.
  4. When metamorphic and igneous rocks are exposed to high temperatures, they transform into magma.

Uses of Rocks

Ore is a term used to describe rocks that contain valuable minerals. Minerals extracted from ore are utilized to make items that we use every day. Houses, stainless steel pots, electronics, batteries, and fertilizer are examples of such items.

Cement is made by heating crushed limestone with some other minerals and heating it. When heated sufficiently, the limestone emits carbon dioxide and transforms into quicklime, the basic component of cement. When quicklime in cement combines with water, it produces a stable crystal.

A country’s most precious resources are its rocks and minerals. As a result, minerals and rocks must be used in a wise and environmentally responsible manner in order to remain sustainable. So that future generations might benefit from them as well.

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About Author

Anuradhika Lakmali

Anuradhika Lakmali is a co-founder of Science A Plus learning network. She is working as a government teacher and has interest in chemistry, biology, phisics and self development.