If you thought your rock and mineral collection was reasonably complete, guess again.
A team of researchers, led by the Carnegie Institute for Science's Robert M. Hazen, used a sophisticated statistical modeling system to calculate that the Earth has a lot of undiscovered minerals - 1,563, to be precise - to add to the nearly 5,000 that already are known. Moreover, the scientists predict that Earth's mineral diversity is unique, and is not duplicated anywhere else in the universe - even on Earth-like rocky exoplanets.
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Those findings are contained in an quartet of recently published articles in Canadian Mineralogist, Mathematical Geoscience, American Mineralogist, and Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic substances that are crystalline - that is, have an ordered arrangement of atoms - and definite chemical compositions. They can be formed with the help of a variety of different types of geological activity, ranging from volcanoes and plate tectonics to water-rock interactions, as well as by biologically-based chemical reactions.