What mineral test is shown in this photograph?

A mineral test, in the context of our discussion, refers to a method used to analyze and determine the properties of minerals. It involves various techniques that help identify different aspects of a mineral’s composition and behavior.

You come across an intriguing photograph that showcases a unique mineral-related phenomenon. It captivates your curiosity, leaving you with a burning question, What mineral test is shown in this photograph? In this article, we will not only answer that question but also delve into the world of mineral testing methods.

Mineral tests are an essential part of the geologist’s toolkit. These tests provide valuable insights into a mineral’s hardness, reactivity, streak color, magnetic properties, and density. By understanding and applying these tests, scientists and enthusiasts can unravel the mysteries of minerals and gain a deeper appreciation for the diverse range of substances that form the Earth’s crust.

The Scratch Test

The scratch test is a foundational mineral identification technique, often the first step in determining a mineral’s identity. This test assesses a mineral’s hardness, which refers to its resistance to scratching. Hardness is quantified on the Mohs scale, which ranks minerals from 1 (the softest) to 10 (the hardest).

The Mohs Scale

The Mohs scale, devised by Friedrich Mohs in the early 19th century, is a relative scale that compares a mineral’s hardness to that of other minerals. It provides a valuable reference point for mineralogists and geologists to identify unknown minerals.

Mohs Scale Reference Table

Mohs Scale ValueMineral Example
6Orthoclase Feldspar
9Corundum (e.g., sapphire, ruby)

To perform a scratch test, select a mineral from the Mohs scale with a known hardness value. Carefully attempt to scratch the mineral of interest with this reference mineral. If the target mineral is scratched, its hardness is lower than the reference mineral used for testing.

Practical Application

The scratch test is particularly useful when identifying mineral test is shown in the photograph in science field. Geologists can carry a Mohs scale reference kit to quickly assess the hardness of unknown minerals. By comparing the mineral’s response to the known values on the scale, they can narrow down potential identifications.



Effervescence is a distinctive property that aids in the identification of carbonate minerals. Carbonates are a group of minerals characterized by the presence of the carbonate ion (CO3^2-). When these minerals come into contact with a weak acid, such as hydrochloric acid (HCl), they react by producing carbon dioxide (CO2) gas, leading to effervescence.

The Reaction

Effervescence occurs when a carbonate mineral reacts with a weak acid. The chemical reaction can be summarized as follows.

Carbonate Mineral + Acid → Carbon Dioxide Gas + Water + Dissolved Ions

For example, calcite, a common carbonate mineral, effervesces vigorously when it encounters hydrochloric acid. The release of carbon dioxide bubbles is a distinct and easily recognizable sign of this reaction.

Practical Use

Effervescence testing is particularly valuable in distinguishing between minerals like calcite and dolomite, which can appear similar in appearance but have different effervescence reactions. By carefully applying a drop of dilute hydrochloric acid to the mineral, you can observe whether or not effervescence occurs, which provides a crucial clue to its identity.


The streak test is a straightforward yet essential method for identifying minerals based on the color of the streak they leave when rubbed against a rough surface. This property often differs from the mineral’s overall color and can serve as a valuable diagnostic tool.

The Streak Plate

The streak test requires a streak plate, typically made of unglazed porcelain. This plate is used as a testing surface to examine the color of the mineral’s streak.

Performing the Streak Test

  • Select an unglazed porcelain streak plate.
  • Hold the mineral to be tested firmly.
  • Rub the mineral across the streak plate with moderate pressure.
  • Observe the color of the streak left behind.


Interpreting the results of the streak test is straightforward. The color of the streak often varies from the mineral’s surface color. For example, a mineral with a metallic surface may leave a streak of a different color. Hematite, which appears silvery gray on the surface, leaves a reddish-brown streak. Magnetite, another metallic mineral, leaves a black streak.

Practical Applications

The streak mineral test is invaluable when dealing with minerals that have varied surface colors. It can aid in distinguishing between minerals that might look similar at first glance. By comparing the observed streak color with reference materials, geologists can make more accurate mineral identifications.


Magnetism is a property observed in only a select few minerals, making it a distinctive feature for their identification. Minerals may exhibit either ferromagnetic or diamagnetic behavior when exposed to a magnetic field.

Ferromagnetic Minerals

Ferromagnetic minerals are strongly attracted to magnets. A classic example is magnetite, which exhibits robust magnetism and was named for this property. Other minerals that display ferromagnetic behavior include pyrrhotite and lodestone.

Magnetic Properties Table

MineralMagnetic Behavior
MagnetiteStrongly Attracted
PyrrhotiteStrongly Attracted
Lodestone (Magnetite)Strongly Attracted

Ferromagnetic minerals are essential in industries like iron ore extraction, where their strong magnetic properties are used for separation and purification processes.

Diamagnetic Minerals

Diamagnetic minerals, on the other hand, are weakly repelled by magnets. Common examples of diamagnetic minerals include quartz, calcite, and feldspar.

Magnetic Properties Table

MineralMagnetic Behavior
QuartzWeakly Repelled
CalciteWeakly Repelled
FeldsparWeakly Repelled

Diamagnetic minerals, while less commonly discussed, are equally important for understanding the full spectrum of magnetic behaviors in minerals.

Specific Gravity

Specific gravity, also known as relative density, is a fundamental property that quantifies a mineral’s density concerning the density of water. This measurement offers insights into a mineral’s composition and can be a valuable aid in mineral identification.

Calculating Specific Gravity

Specific gravity is calculated by comparing the weight of a mineral to the weight it loses when submerged in water. The formula for specific gravity is as follows:

Specific Gravity (SG) = (Weight of the Mineral in Air) / (Loss of Weight in Water)

Minerals typically fall within a specific range of specific gravity values. For instance, quartz has a specific gravity of about 2.65, while denser minerals like galena have a specific gravity around 7.5.

Practical Use

Specific gravity is particularly useful when distinguishing between minerals with similar appearances. By comparing the specific gravity of an unknown mineral with established values, geologists can make accurate identifications. It is a non-destructive test that provides valuable insights into a mineral’s composition.

What is the significance of mineral testing methods?

Mineral testing methods are crucial for identifying and characterizing minerals, aiding in geological research and resource exploration.

How does the scratch test help in mineral identification?

The scratch test assesses a mineral’s hardness by comparing it to known reference minerals on the Mohs scale.

What are some common minerals that exhibit effervescence?

Carbonate minerals like calcite and dolomite often effervesce when exposed to weak acids.

What does the streak test reveal about minerals?

The streak test determines the color of a mineral’s streak when rubbed on a porcelain plate, helping distinguish minerals with varying surface colors.

Why is understanding specific gravity important in mineral analysis?

Specific gravity provides insights into a mineral’s density relative to water and aids in the identification of minerals with similar appearances.


In conclusion, mineral testing methods are the key to unlocking the secrets hidden within the Earth’s crust. These tests allow us to understand and appreciate the remarkable diversity of minerals that shape our world. By applying techniques such as the scratch test, effervescence, streak, magnetism, and specific gravity, we gain valuable insights into the unique properties of each mineral.

Minerals play an integral role in our lives, from their use in industry to their significance in scientific research. Whether you’re a geologist, a student, or simply curious about the world around you, understanding these mineral testing methods is a fascinating journey that deepens our connection to the planet. These methods provide essential tools for identifying and characterizing minerals, contributing to our knowledge of the Earth’s geological history and the resources it offers.

So, the next time you encounter a mineral, remember the world of possibilities that mineral testing methods unveil. They not only help us answer the question, “What mineral test is shown in this photograph?” but also offer a profound appreciation for the countless treasures that lie beneath the surface of our planet.

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