Can You Identify This Mineral From a Closeup Photo?


By: Tasha Moore

6 Min Quiz

Image: Darrell Gulin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Be warned! The names on this Earth science challenge are not at all easy! But we are here to help you on your journey with this mineral identification quiz. While taking your digital excursion, don't forget to pause and admire the beautiful imagery we've amassed of some of the Earth's unusual natural substances. If you are a mineral pro, then be mindful of the generous tips we provide in the questions. 

Geology pros know that rocks are not just hindering blocks, and dirt is so much more than worthless grime. There's a method to this fun magnified quiz madness! We implore you to take closer looks at the Earth around and beneath you to appreciate its hidden gems. 

It took the Earth millions of years and pressure to create the crust and crystals that we see today. We use some of those materials to build things, and other minerals, like diamond and gold, to satisfy our aesthetic desires. Newer minerals might happen by accident or in a laboratory, and there are plenty from which to choose. There are so many minerals, you'd think we had run out of names for them. This would explain the creative labels you'll notice in this quiz. We make light of the naming conventions so that you can enjoy the view. 

Scroll on and enjoy this visual mineral feast!

It's one of many minerals of its kind that exist today and emerged as a result of industrial processing. Can you ID the right label?

Abhurite is a novel compound that humans developed unintentionally. The mineral emerged from the mining process and the reactivity of old metals at sea. Two hundred and eight incidental minerals exist today.


Can you guess this mineral which was discovered in Russia and named after a famous scientist?

Abramovite is a novel mineral compound that was mined from the Kudrayavy volcano in Iturup Island, Russia. The mineral is named for Russian mineralogist Dmitry Abramov and is housed at the A.E. Fersman Mineralogical Museum in Russia, one of the world's largest mineral repositories.


Can you guess this polymorph mineral?

Acanthite is a metallic mineral with low hardness and high density. The black mineral compound is usually dull in appearance, but new acanthite is shiny when unexposed. The compound is a polymorph of silver sulfide.


What "skarn ore" mineral do you see in this photo?

Actinolite is classified as one of several "skarn ores" that exist in limestones. The mineral typically exhibits an asbestos surface texture. Molybdenite and malachite are deposits often found in actinolite skarn.


A certain Mexican mine yields this substance. Can you choose the best answer?

The Ojuela mine of Mapimi in Mexico contains 117 types of minerals, including dull pink adamite compounds. The mine carves out 280 miles of the limestone landform known as Bufa de Mapimi.


What mineral is mined heavily in a mountain range in southeast Africa?

Aegirine is a rock-forming mineral linked to zircon, smoky quartz and microcline. The mineral has been extensively mined at Zomba, Malawi, in East Africa since the 1950s and 1960s. Relatively large crystals have been discovered at the Chinduzi-Chikala mountain range.


Choose the crystals that materialized in the 1960s?

Blue afghanite was referred to as a new species in the late 1960s. Metasomatized rocks contain skarns of afghanite that were the result of limestone volcanic activity or igneous formations.


It's named after a diamond executive. Can you name it?

Afwillite has been mined from the Bultfontein kimberlite in South Africa. The mineral is a monoclinic hydrous silicate. It is named for Alpheus Fuller Williams of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. who first discovered it at the Dutoitspan diamond mine in 1923.


Choose the mineral that's linked to geothite?

A rare copper mineral micromineral, agardite occurs as the foggy-blue crystalline surface on goethite. It has been discovered at a number of mining areas in New Mexico that are now inactive.


Some merchants may have misidentified this substance at first. Can you guess its exact name?

When it was first discovered, babingtonite was passed off and sold as augite minerals. You'll find unrefined sharp, black babingtonite paired with epidote or quartz crystals. Babingtonite has been mined at Gronsjoberg in Sweden.


Which of these names matches the Swiss discovery shown in the image?

The refractive index for cabalzarite, a secondary microcrystalline mineral, is roughly 1.7. Of the tsumcorite category, the novel mineral has been found at the Falotta, an abandoned mine in the Swiss Alps.


What's the official name of this magnified matter that contains boron?

Danburite takes on a tetrahedral structure that consists of widely distributed silicon and boron. It is one of a few boron gemstones of commercial importance. Danburite has been found in Switzerland, Mexico, Japan and Sri Lanka.


It's not as prevalent as other crystals of its kind that form in the same system. Can you name the mineral?

Cacoxenite is one of the last minerals to form in the phosphate pegmatites system. The infrequently occurring phosphate mineral casts a more vivid yellow appearance in iron ores than other more abundant phosphates.


Miners flock to the largest North American Great Lake for this mineral. Try to name the crystalline medium?

You'll find forms of datolite at Lake Superior, which is the world's biggest reserve of mined copper. Datolite typically encompasses traces of copper. The mineral is a calcium boron silicate hydroxide.


What do you name this mineral that is found in the Americas?

Edingtonite is a microporous, all-silica mineral that has been mined at Ice River, Canada, and Jacupiranga, Brazil. The mineral is constructed from a paulingite packing cavity and a smaller tetragonal scalenohedra cavity.


What name do you give to this wolframite mineral?

The black ferberite mineral is classified as the last iron tungstate derivation of the wolframite series. Although it contains metallic crystals, this brittle specimen is magnetically weak.


Gold metal has much to do with the formation of ________.

The thallium-containing sulfosalt galkhaite is a very rare mineral that casts shades of black and red. It is believed that, since galkhaite is typically enclosed in gold-carrying silica, a galkhaite discovery at Nevada's Getchell mine had formed from the deposition of gold.


Which label refers to a Canadian peninsula?

The rare apple-green gaspeite specimen takes its name from the Gaspe Peninsula where the stone was first found in Quebec, Canada. One of the biggest lodes of the mineral was discovered at a nickel mine in Western Australia.


Select your best guess of this metamorphic rock substance?

Sodium-rich gedrite is classified as an orthoamphibole commonly found in metamorphic rocks. The first occurrence of the primary igneous specimen took place at the gabbro in Eriksberg, Sweden.


There is an abundance of ________ near Lake Erie.

The Cargill Cleveland Salt Mine near Lake Erie has the most abundant reserves of halite in the United States. Halite is the scientific name for salt. Embedded halites consist of chevron-shaped vertical crystals.


Do you know the right label for these cold-water crystals?

Primarily located off the shores of Greenland and Antarctica, the ikaite mineral is comprised of water and calcium carbonate. Cold waters are the ideal formation environments for this rare specimen.


Can you name one of the most solid minerals that the ancients revered?

The condensed and hard jadeite mineral forms in areas called tectonic subduction zones where the pressure is high and the temperature is low. Ancient cultures of the Americas coveted the sturdy mineral.


It's necessary for processing a certain type of fertilizer. Does this hint help you identify the substance shown here?

The Polymineral State Chemical Plant at Lviv Oblast in Stebnyk, Ukraine, has the capacity to extract 1 million tons of kainite every year. The mineral is a naturally-occurring salt necessary for the production of potassium-based fertilizers.


Different colors of this mineral type supposedly differ by a tiny structural aspect. What matter is this?

Dark-hued labradorite mineral has microscopic layers that allow for the light interference responsible for the mineral's schiller, or bronzy luster. Supposedly, red labradorite does not contain this layer, yet there exist fine bits of copper throughout the specimen type.


Have you figured out the name of this barite substance?

The secondary mineral anglesite is a pale-to-gray nonmetallic brittle specimen. Green, yellow and blue variations also exist, though rarely. Anglesite is classified as a barite mineral.


What's the correct lead and copper derivative?

Colors of the brittle linarite mineral range from dark to light blue. The rare specimen is classified as a basic sulfate composed of lead and copper. Linarite is usually discovered and distributed in small amounts.


Cylindrical is just one shape of crystalline structures in certain ________ specimens.

Magnesite crystals are formed pseudohexagonally, and shapes vary by hue. White crystals are comprised of small prism structures, and barrel shapes are common in yellow specimens. Magnesite mineral forms can also be colorless.


What do you think is the correct name of this common mineral?

Of all green minerals, malachite is one of the most common. The specimen occurs in abundance in the Shaba region of Africa's Democratic Republic of Congo. It has been assumed that the mineral's green shades are caused by alternating tennantite and chalcopyrite.


Go to southeast and Central Asia to find ________.

You can find phlogopite in Grenville metamorphosed limestone. The mineral results as tabular or extended crystals. Mogok, Myanmar, and Badakhshan, Afghanistan, are locations where the crystals have been mined.


The substance name implies the color red. Can you make the best guess as to its name?

The tetragonal rutile mineral is not always black; the specimen's name is derived from a Latin word that means "red." There are pale versions of man-made rutile. Naturally-occurring rutile tones include green, deep-browns, yellow shades and darker tones of red and blue.


Can you name this danburite derivative?

Dravite occurs copiously in danburite, giving the derived specimen its dark-brown tone. Dravite forms exist in shades ranging from pale brown to reddish-brown, and even black. The mineral may have a high ferrous content.


Its copper base explains its reddish glimmer. How well do you know this mineral?

Tennantite is copper iron arsenic sulfide. The mineral, which ranges from gray to black, is common in sulfosalts and sulfides. Tennantite crystals have reddish translucent extremities.


Does the name "tourmaline" help you to identify the best answer here?

Black and translucent red shorl, or tourmaline, exist as clumps of fan-shaped acicular crystals. Large schorl crystals are typically black, while very small crystals reflect a reddish-brown hue.


Try to guess the best label for this chabazite correlate.

Pyrolusite exists as a lustrous black layer on rocks connected with epidote and chabazite. The mineral appears as black curvy dendritic bands that exhibit obvious traces of manganese.


There's a unique stepped structural variant of ________ found in China.

Artichoke quartz from China is a unique variation whereby quartz subcrystals are stepped to form a mosaic pattern on the rhombohedron and/or prism. Such a phenomenon creates a rounded "artichoke" formation that some mineralogists have termed "Artischockenquarz."


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