Physical Characteristics of Minerals: Notes for UPSC Geography l


The different minerals found under the surface of the earth are charectersed as per shape, hardness, luster, size etc. This article will give a brief description about the Physical characteristics of minerals. The details of this article can be made into useful notes for the Civil Services Exam.

These notes will also be useful for other competitive exams like banking PO, SSC, state civil services exams and so on.

Physical characteristics of minerals (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

External crystal form

  • The external crystal form determined by the internal arrangement of the molecules — cubes, octahedrons, hexagonal prisms, etc.


  • It denotes the splitting of a crystal along a smooth plane.
  • Not every mineral exhibits cleavage.
  • A plane of structural weakness along which a mineral is likely to split.
  • The quality of a mineral’s cleavage indicates both the ease with which the mineral cleaves and the character of the exposed surface.


  • Fracture takes place when a mineral sample is split in a direction which does not serve as a plane of perfect or distinct cleavage.
  • A mineral fractures when it is fragmented or crushed.
  • Fracture does not result in the occurrence of clearly demarcated planar surfaces.
  • Minerals may fracture in any possible direction.
  • If the internal molecular arrangement is so complex that there are no planes of molecules; the crystal will break in an irregular manner, not along planes of cleavage.


  • Minerals may be categorized according to whether they are opaque or transparent.
  • Each mineral has a unique lustre like silky, metallic, glossy, etc.


  • Some minerals have a characteristic colour determined by their molecular structure.
  • Eg: malachite, azurite, chalcopyrite, etc.
  • Some minerals are coloured by impurities and because of impurities quartz may be white, green, red, yellow, etc.


  • Streak is the shade of a mineral when it has been crushed to a fine powder.
  • It may be of the same colour as the mineral or may differ.
  • For eg:
    • Malachite is green and gives green streak.
    • Fluorite is purple or green but gives a white streak.


  • Transparent: Light rays pass through so that objects can be seen plainly.
  • Translucent: Light rays pass through but will get diffused so that objects cannot be seen.
  • Opaque: Light will not pass at all through the opaque objects.


  • Structure refers to the particular arrangement of the individual crystals.


  • Hardness is defined as the level of difficulty with which a smooth surface of a mineral specimen may be scratched.
  • It is dependent upon the strength of the bonds which compose its crystal structure.
  • Ten minerals are selected to measure the degree of hardness from 1-10. They are:
    • Talc
    • Gypsum
    • Calcite
    • Fluorite
    • Apatite
    • Feldspar
    • Quartz
    • Topaz
    • Corundum
    • Diamond

Specific gravity

  • Specific gravity is a unit-less quantity.
  • It is defined as the ratio between the weight of a given object and the weight of an equal volume of water.

Physical characteristics of minerals (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Charecteristics of Minerals


What are the 5 charecteristics of minerals?

A mineral has 5 characteristics, naturally occurring, solid, inorganic, crystalline structure, and the same chemical composition throughout So repeat after me A mineral is Naturally occurring-naturally occurring Inorganic solid-inorganic solid Crystalline structure The same chemical composition throughout.


What are the 10 properties of minerals?

Some of the properties of minerals are as follows: color, streak, hardness, luster, diaphaneity, specific gravity, cleavage, fracture, magnetism, solubility, and many more. These physical properties are useful for identifying minerals.

For more related articles and information about the UPSC Exams and other articles, visit the links given in the table below:

Related Links



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button