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Andrew Alden

What's the Most Common Mineral?

By January 27, 2009

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This is one of those questions, like "how many lithospheric plates are there?" that exists to please the type of schoolteacher (or curriculum writer) who likes one pat answer. There must be one mineral that's the most common, right? Hah! It depends. And the three best answers for that question about the most common mineral are quartz, feldspar and olivine (more about that here). But that schoolteacher I mentioned won't like them because they'll encourage students to argue. Heck, I could argue that clay is the most common mineral: it covers the most ground on our planet, and clay minerals are indistinguishable except by geologists.

Comments

January 28, 2009 at 5:23 am
(1) hypocentre says:

Surely the most common mineral (by volume) is perovskite since it makes up most of the lower mantle.

January 28, 2009 at 1:51 pm
(2) Geology Guide says:

The lower mantle is about three times the size of the upper mantle, so you could argue that. But “perovskite” is a structural name, not a mineral name. If memory serves, the lower mantle is largely magnesiowüstite in the perovskite crystal structure.

January 28, 2009 at 2:06 pm
(3) Lockwood says:

I’ve often wondered if the most common mineral on the earth’s surface wasn’t ice. That may be changing with the loss of the artic icepack, but if 30% of the surface is land, only a portion of that is either quartz, feldspar or clay. What portion of the surface is covered by ice?

January 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm
(4) Mineral man says:

Actually, I believe the man is trying to say the most commonly MINED mineral.

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