Identifying An Unknown

The Bottom Line on Identifying an Unknown - Here on Top!

An unknown sample is characterized by its properties. You must observe and test the unknown sample to determine its properties. For example, if an unknown sample passes enough electricity to light the flashlight (), then we know the unknown sample is a metallic mineral. This information helps to eliminate many other possible choices and focus attention on a smaller subet of minerals that might identify our unknown sample.

Bottom Line: An identification is made for the closest match between the properties observed in the unknown sample and one mineral in the bank.

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

Student Instructions for Identification

  • Check with your instructor for the set of unidentified mineral samples assigned for this lab.

  • Access each unidentified mineral assigned through the link on Unknown Samples

  • The unknown mineral’s webpage is loaded with text, images, and short videos.

  • Make and record observations on the Data Form

  • Consult the Mineral Bank after recording observations of each Unknown sample.

  • Compare your recorded observations on unknowns with properties of named minerals. Be sure to check out the different tabs of the mineral bank.

  • Identify an unknown sample with a named mineral in the bank for best match of properties. Record the name for the unknown on the Data Form, and the chemical formula, if assigned.

Access the Mineral Bank

Click table to display in a new browser tab.