Earth's Minerals (Book)

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+ How are Minerals Identified?

- Cleavage

Cleavage is the tendency of a mineral to break along certain planes. When a mineral breaks along a plane it makes a smooth surface. Minerals with different crystal structures will break or cleave in different ways, as in Figure. Halite tends to form cubes with smooth surfaces. Mica tends to form sheets. Fluorite can form octahedrons.

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Minerals with different crystal structures have a tendency to break along certain planes.

Minerals can form various shapes. Polygons are shown in Figure. The shapes form as the minerals are broken along their cleavage planes. Cleavage planes determine how the crystals can be cut to make smooth surfaces. People who cut gemstones follow cleavage planes. Diamonds and emeralds can be cut to make beautiful gemstones. 

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Cubes have six sides that are all the same size square. All of the angles in a cube are equal to 90°. Rhombohedra also have six sides, but the sides are diamond-shaped. Octahedra have eight sides that are all shaped like triangles.