Mineral ID

A Practical Online Study Guide


Scott Brande, PhD

Associate Professor, Dept. of Chemistry

UAB, Birmingham, Alabama USA


Image credit: Scott Brande

Geology Practical Online Study Guides

If you're looking for online resources for mineral and rock identification, look no further. In various stages of development. Distribute these links to students and colleagues.

Igneous Rock


Sedimentary Rock


Metamorphic Rock


Minerals - Quick Links 1

Testing Minerals - instructions for observing mineral properties

Unknown Samples - online images, videos and text of samples for identification

Visual Bank - compare unknown minerals to these reference minerals

How to Identify an Unknown - steps for observation

Sample Data Form - worksheet for organizing observations

Minerals - Quick Links 2

Digital Reference Worksheet - online worksheet with names and properties of reference minerals

Practice Quiz for Luster - example of online review for mineral property

Instructional Videos - demonstrations for how to observe properties

Uses of Minerals - explore online resources

Online Activities - extend student understanding beyond identification

Background to Geology Practical Online Study Guides


I designed these online study guides like a toolbox with resources that may be re-purposed for different learning objectives.

  • media-rich resources for online, observational, lab activities in the identification of minerals, igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks

  • includes a collection of known (identified in the visual bank) samples with reference properties

  • includes a collection unknown (unidentified) samples undergoing traditional tests (e.g., HCl, Mohs, streak)

  • includes a new electrical conductivity test using a cheap flashlight for identifying metallic minerals

  • includes links to external resources (e.g., extensive image banks)

Web Features

  • free, public, web-accessible

  • delivery to (almost) all devices,- cellphones , laptops, desktops

  • viewable through (almost) all browsers, but Chrome might generate the fewest issues

Use Cases

  • as a supplement to textbook or other online resources

  • as a training aid for learning to make relevant observations

  • as an out-of-class resource for practice and review prior to a quiz or report

Quick Start

  • Distribute this link: http://omg.georockme.com Thanks to Kevin Hurler for suggesting the OMG subdomain for this website!

  • This is the first iteration of "Mineral Identification - A Practical Online Study Guide", and I can guarantee the presence of typos / errors, omissions and even bad web design.

  • If you are an instructor and you want additional features developed in this website so that it can be more useful for your students, please contact me (see footer).

Scott Brande, 6 July 2019

Laptop and Tablet Displays & Navigation Menus

Navigate website by menu, dropdown boxes, and search

Each page shows a summary

Documents and Images in Pop-outs

Footer Navigation and Contacts

Search Inside Website

Cellphone Navigation Displays

Content is dynamically reformatted for smaller displays by wrapping content into a column. The main menu appears on the left side of the display.

To Students: Your Lab Experience, In-Class or Online

In-class lab with physical samples

Your instructor may have provided you access to this website to supplement your in-class study of minerals and their identification. You may find this site useful in different ways:

  • as a training aid through videos and images for learning to perform physical examination and simple tests, such as the streak test, the acid test, etc.

  • as a supplement with images and video snips to your examination of physical samples

  • as an online resource for characteristic mineral properties compiled in the Mineral Bank

  • as an out-of-class resource for practice and review prior to a quiz or report

Online self study or review

Your instructor may have provided you access to this website for a number of different purposes, including, but not limited to the following.

  • as a primary resource for learning how your online observation of simple tests and experiments produce distinct results that can be visually assessed and recognized

  • as an online resource of digital assets for which characteristic mineral properties can be ascertained and used for identification

  • as an online resource for practice and reinforcement of the procedures for mineral identification

To Students: Instructions

This study set consists of a smaller set of minerals drawn from a limited bank of common minerals. Additional minerals may be added in the future to both the study set and the bank.

  • Review Testing Minerals to learn how to observe online images and video for characteristic properties of minerals

  • Access unidentified mineral samples in the Unknowns.

  • Make notes and record observations. Print and use this Data Form, or one issued by your instructor.

  • Compare your recorded observations with an identification chart in your textbook or other resource, OR consult this limited bank of identified minerals with relevant properties.

  • Identify the unknown mineral samples by name by comparing your recorded observations with an identification chart and this limited bank. An unknown sample is identified when its properties most closely match those of a mineral identified and described in the limited bank or your external resource.

  • CAUTION. Some links to online resources outside of this website will display content in a new browser tab. Some links will be accompanied by advertisements. The value of the displayed content outweighs the distraction that may be caused by ads - so IGNORE ADS!

To Students: Learning Objectives

Primary learning objectives for the student study of mineral properties and identification include, but are not limited to, the following.

For example, you will learn to

  • perform simple tests or experiments - for example, the "acid test", the hardness test, the streak test, the electricity conduction experiment, OR

  • observe and understand simple tests or experiments that reveal characteristic properties of samples used for identification

  • observe a mineral and describe observational facts - for example, "the sample creates a scratch in a glass plate"

  • recognize and identify an observational fact with a mineral property - for example, "the testing of a mineral against a glass plate is a test of relative hardness on the Mohs scale"

  • make inferences based on test results - for example, "because the sample creates a scratch in a glass plate, it's relative Mohs hardness must be greater than about 5.5"

  • identify a mineral by name, based on a unique collection of properties - for example, "because the sample scratches glass, exhibits a pattern of fracture called 'conchoidal', and doesn't produce a streak, these limited properties coincide with those of the mineral quartz as described in my textbook table - so I'll conclude that this sample is made of quartz".

What This Resource Is Not

  • Not an exhaustive guide to all minerals, common and rare.

  • Not a collection of assets fully developed for use in mineral identification independent of a textbook or other teaching resources.

  • Not an authoritative archive of expert information.

  • Not a finished work.

Errors/Suggestions: Contact Scott Brande (see footer).