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What is Geoscience

Geoscience is the scientific study of the planet Earth and its many different natural geologic
systems. It includes the study and investigation of Earths minerals, soil, water and energy
resources: how Earths natural systems work today, how they operated in the recent and ancient
past, and how we expect they may behave in the future. Geoscience is real-world science,
relevant to us all, everyday.
Our Earth has been around for more than four billion years so theres a lot of information to work
with. Some geoscientists work in a traditional broad area of Earth science like geology,
geophysics, geochemistry and environmental geoscience. Others practice geoscience in one of
many specialized areas, such as volcanology (volcanoes), paleontology (fossils) or
geochronology (age-dating rocks); or they work in a new emerging discipline such as medical or
forensic geology. Whats important to remember is that there are many different types of
geoscientists and different forms of geoscience practice.
If youre working on a school project or simply want to find out more about geoscience and the
work of geoscientists, visit Earth Sciences Canada for some great information.

A mineral is a naturally occurring inorganic solid, with a definite chemical composition, and an
ordered atomic arrangement. This may seem a bit of a mouthful, but if you break it down it
becomes simpler.

Minerals are naturally occurring


They are not made by humans

Minerals are inorganic


They have never been alive and are not made up from plants or animals

Minerals are solids


They are not liquids (like water), or gases (like the air around you)

Minerals have a definite chemical composition


Each one is made of a particular mix of chemical elements

Minerals have an ordered atomic arrangement


The chemical elements that make up each mineral are arranged in a particular way - this is
why minerals 'grow' as crystals

Did You Know? Although liquid water is not a mineral, it is a mineral when it freezes. Ice is a naturally
occurring, inorganic solid with a definite chemical composition and an ordered internal structure.
A natural snowflake would be considered to be a mineral because it forms naturally in Earth's
atmosphere. However an ice cube made in a refrigerator would not be considered a mineral because it
was produced by the actions of people.
So, ice is a mineral when it forms naturally but it is not a mineral when people play a role in producing it.

A rock is:

A solid

Naturally occurring

Is made up of minerals or mineral like matter.

Some minerals are harder than others. The hardness of a mineral is a good tool you can use
to help identify minerals.
In 1812, a man named Fredrich Mohs invented a scale of hardness called Mohs Scale which
is still used today. He selected ten standard minerals, and arranged them in order of
increasing hardness. Talc is the softest and diamond is the hardest. Each mineral can scratch
only those below it on the scale.
Look at the scale below - click on the pictures to find out about each mineral.

1. Talc 2. Gypsum 3. Calcite 4. Fluorite 5. Apatite 6. Orthoclase 7. Quartz 8. Topaz 9.


Corundum 10. Diamond
You can easily test for hardness. Start with the softest standard mineral - talc. Scrape the talc
across the mineral you want to identify. If it leaves a scratch, the mineral is softer than talc. If it
doesn't, the mineral is harder than talc. Continue doing this with the harder standard minerals
- gypsum, calcite and so on. If, for example, your mineral can be scratched by fluorite but not
by calcite, it will have a hardness of about three and a half.