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Video:What Are Mineral Habits?

with John Swanson

Minerals have distinct forms, known as mineral habits, which depend on their geological setting. Learn more about mineral habits with this educational video.See Transcript

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Transcript:What Are Mineral Habits?

Hi I’m Geologist John Swanson for About.com and today I’ll be talking about mineral habits.

Mineral Habits are Forms of Minerals

In different geologic settings, minerals may take distinctive forms. These forms are known as habits.  A mineral’s identity is often tied to the environment in which it formed. But what does that mean?

Well, if a mineral is round like a basketball, you know right away they aren’t tourmaline. That’s because tourmaline is never round.

Common Crystal Habits:

  • Blocky -  which appears box-like or sometimes ball-like. Pyrite is a good example of a blocky habit.
  • Tabular - these minerals are often shaped like a deck of playing cards or even a thin piece of paper. Barite is an excellent example.
  • Prismatic - quartz is a common mineral that forms this habit. These are elongated with opposite faces that are parallel to each other.
  • Bladed - this one is pretty obvious. These minerals form in a shape similar to the blade of a knife.
  • Acicular - these minerals appear in the form of a needle. Millerite is a good example of this form.

Mineral Habits are Predictable

Now, these five habits aren’t the only ones out there, in actuality there are dozens. Also, not each crystal forms a habit. Depending on the environment and mineral involved, it can sometimes take many crystals to form one habit shape.

Though environmental forces do play a role in the habit a mineral displays, minerals usually will never defy their type and take on a completely distinct shape or form. Minerals stay within fairly predictable parameters.

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the habits of minerals. Thanks for watching. If you’d like to learn more, please find us on the web at about.com.

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