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Schematic representation of the structure of pyrite (FeS2) as based on a cubic array of ferrous iron cations (Fe2+) and sulfur anions (S−).
Traditionally, minerals have been described as resulting exclusively from inorganic processes; however, current mineralogic practice often includes as minerals those compounds that are organically produced but satisfy all other mineral requirements. Aragonite (CaCO3) is an example of an inorganically formed mineral that also has an organically produced, yet otherwise identical, counterpart; the shell (and the pearl, if it is present) of an oyster is composed to a large extent of organically formed aragonite. Minerals also are produced by the human body: hydroxylapatite
While minerals are classified in a logical manner according to their major anionic (negatively charged) chemical constituents into groups such as oxides, silicates, and nitrates, they are named in a far less scientific or consistent way. Names may be assigned to reflect a physical or chemical property, such as colour, or they may be derived from various subjects deemed appropriate, such as, for example, a locality, public figure, or mineralogist. Some examples of mineral names and their derivations follow: albite (NaAlSi3O8) is from the Latin word (albus) for “white” in reference to its colour; goethite (FeO ∙ OH) is in honour of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet; manganite (MnO ∙ OH) reflects the mineral’s composition; franklinite (ZnFe2O4) is named after Franklin, New Jersey, U.S., the site of its occurrence as the dominant ore mineral for zinc (Zn); and sillimanite (Al2SiO4) is in honour of the American chemist Benjamin Silliman. Since 1960 the Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names of the International Mineralogical Association has reviewed descriptions of new minerals and proposals for new mineral names and has attempted to remove inconsistencies. Any new mineral name must be approved by this committee, and the type material is usually stored in a museum or university collection.
Specimen showing bright fluorescent colour resulting from ultraviolet irradiation of calcite (calcium carbonate; red fluorescence) with grains of franklinite (a zinc, manganese, and iron oxide; black coloration), which is nonfluorescent. Veins and grains of willemite (a zinc silicate; green fluorescence) also appear.