A mineral is a naturally-occurring substance formed through geological processes that has a characteristic chemical composition, a highly ordered atomic structure and specific physical properties. A rock is a naturally occurring aggregate of minerals and/or mineraloids. Rocks do not have a definite chemical composition.

Comparison chart

Minerals versus Rocks comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartMineralsRocks
Study Mineralogy Petrology
Chemical composition Has a definite chemical composition; minerals are inorganic compounds. Does not have a definite chemical composition
Examples Gold, silver, fluoride etc. Limestone, Basalt, Coal, Claystone
color color is usually the same color is not the same
shape usually have a shape no definite shape
fossils no fossils some have fossils
Function in biology Minerals help in bone and tooth formation, blood coagulation and muscle contraction. shelter and foundation
Nutritional requirement for the human body Only some minerals are required by the human body for nutrition. little to none

Scientific Study

Petrology is the scientific study of rocks while the the study of minerals is called mineralogy.


Rocks are generally made of two or more minerals. A main determining factor in the formation of minerals in a rock mass is the chemical composition of the mass, for a certain mineral can be formed only when the necessary elements are present in the rock. Calcite is most common in limestones, as these consist essentially of calcium carbonate; quartz is common in sandstones and in certain igneous rocks like granite which contain a high percentage of silica. Two rock masses may have very much the same bulk composition and yet consist of entirely different assemblages of minerals.

Composition of minerals varies from one mineral to another. Some may have a high content of carbonate while others may have a high content of oxides. Even their physical characteristics may vary. While one may be known for its hardness, another may have a characteristic luster. All these variations also form standards for classifying them in broad categories.


Rocks are classified by their mineral and chemical composition, by the texture of the constituent particles and by the processes that formed them. These indicators separate rocks into igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous rocks are formed when molten magma cools and are divided into two main categories: plutonic rock and volcanic. Sedimentary rocks are formed by deposition of either clastic sediments, organic matter, or chemical precipitates (evaporites), followed by compaction of the particulate matter and cementation during diagenesis. Metamorphic rocks are formed by subjecting any rock type (including previously-formed metamorphic rock) to different temperature and pressure conditions than those in which the original rock was formed.

There are currently more than 4,000 known minerals, according to the International Mineralogical Association, which is responsible for the approval of and naming of new mineral species found in nature. Of these, perhaps 150 can be called "common," 50 are "occasional," and the rest are "rare" to "extremely rare."

Minerals may be classified according to chemical composition, for example- The silicate class, the carbonate class, element class etc. A mineral can be identified by several physical properties such as crystal structure, hardness, color, luster, specific gravity etc.


Rocks are very useful in making roads, buildings, polishing materials, industrial work etc. Rocks like granite and marble are now used in home improvement for aesthetic reasons.

Different minerals are useful for various purposes like the gem industry, for carving, as abrasives and for formation of other elements or rocks.


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