Mineralogy (2nd Edition)

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9780130620996: Mineralogy (2nd Edition)

This learner-oriented text is written in a casual, jargon-free style to present a modern introduction to mineralogy. It emphasizes real-world applications and an “outside-in approach” as well as the history and human side of mineralogy. Chapter topics include elements and minerals; crystallization and classification of minerals; mineral properties: hand specimen mineralogy; optical mineralogy; igneous rocks and silicate minerals; sedimentary minerals and sedimentary rocks; metamorphic minerals and metamorphic rocks; ore deposits and economic minerals; crystal morphology and symmetry; crystallography; units cells, points, lines, and planes; x-ray diffraction; atomic structure; and descriptions of minerals. For individuals interested in the science of mineralogy, and how minerals impact everyday life.

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Several excellent mineralogy texts are available today. They are well written, contain good figures and tables, and are complete. In short, they make excellent reference books, and I am glad I have them on my shelf. However, in my experience they are not appropriate for undergraduate mineralogy courses because they do not stimulate students or present information in ways that help students learn. Of course, the most enthusiastic and self-motivated students always do well and enjoy learning, and they may enjoy any well-written book, but many of my students are not of this ilk. They are good students, but many of them have, over the years, expressed frustration and dissatisfaction with mineralogy texts and, consequently, the way that mineralogy is taught.

As I see it, the major problem is one of thinking. In particular, it is a problem stemming from scientific minds that picture the world as a bunch of facts that, when combined, add up to big pictures. I find that most mineralogy students are bored by facts and often have not developed the imagination or perseverance needed to see their implications. As a scientist, I don't have a problem starting with atoms and atomic theory and building to molecules, crystals, rocks, regions, continents, and the Earth. I have no problem spending time discussing symmetry before I discuss minerals. It doesn't bother me if a class or an article never gets beyond interesting details and abstractions, or if a particular topic is never fully related to any other. However, as a teacher, I find that the scientific way of thinking is not the students' way of learning. Most students, in fact, seem to learn best by starting with the big things they know and understand—a rock or a pretty crystal, for instance—and then focusing on details and, finally, abstractions. They are interested and stimulated only when they understand the context and implications of the material they are learning. This means that the order and presentation of subjects in available mineralogy books are in many ways opposite from what can best promote learning.

Most of today's students won't be mineralogists and few will be petrologists. They don't need to know all the details of crystallography, crystal chemistry, and many other things we have taught in the past. Instead, they need to know how to think, they need to appreciate science and how it works, and, if they are to go on to careers in the Earth sciences, they need to know how minerals fit into a bigger picture.

This is the second edition of Mineralogy but, like the first, it approaches the subject of mineralogy from a student's perspective. My goal is to provide a book that students will enjoy reading and that will help them learn and become excited about the science I have made my career. I have tried to emphasize ideas and thinking and to relate mineralogy to other sciences. Consequently, I have deemphasized facts and sacrificed some completeness. Most, but not all, of the same material found in other mineralogy books is included, but the order, presentation, and depth of coverage are different. Mineralogical purists may say that I have strayed into different disciplines or that I have omitted some important details. Of these crimes I am guilty; but I have not done this without thought, and I hope that my thinking has been consistent with my goals.

When I wrote the first edition of this book, I was asked what would make it different and successful. I am not sure what makes a book successful, but the most important things that make this book different from others are

  • With the exception of the first chapter, topics are covered beginning with the big, easy-to-see picture and ending with the details and theory.
  • Topics are not completely divided into separate chapters as in many books; there is overlap and some redundancy.
  • In an attempt to put mineralogy in context, I have placed more emphasis on petrology, chemistry, and other sciences not normally considered mineralogy.
  • The history and human side of mineralogy—individuals and their contributions—have received more emphasis and are placed in better context than in other books.
  • Boxed material relates mineralogy to things that are relevant to our daily lives.
  • Jargon, classification schemes, and other vocabulary are only mentioned when important, and they are never emphasized.
  • This book includes a glossary of over 1000 mineralogical terms.
  • This book is not a complete mineralogy reference book; some things have been omitted or covered only briefly.
  • I have tried to write in a style that is easy to read and less rigid than many science texts.
  • Every chapter includes some "Questions for Thought." Most of the questions do not have absolutely correct answers. Instead, they require thinking about the material in the chapter and combining it with material learned elsewhere. They are intended to stimulate student thought and discussion and to inspire students to look in other books or journals for information.
  • With some additions, and with emphasis on Chapters 1-8, this text could form the basis for a combined mineralogy/petrology course.

In this, the second edition, I have made some significant changes. Many photos and line drawings have been replaced, and new topical boxes have been added. I have omitted some of the more tedious parts of the first edition, replacing them with more information relating mineralogy to the world around us. Additionally, this edition is accompanied by a CD-Rom that contains over 400 high-quality mineral photographs.

This book would not have been possible without an incredible amount of help from my friends and others. So many people have contributed that listing them all would add another chapter. Al Falster and others provided some photos for this book, but I am especially indebted to Alan Kantrud who took many photographs for me and taught me how to take my own. I am also indebted to Eric Dowty and Shape Software for providing graphics software and data files to create crystal structure drawings.

Thanks go the following reviewers: Penelope Morton, University of Minnesota-Duluth; William P Leeman, Rice University; David L. Smith, La Salle University; Jeffery Ryan, University of South Florida; Jennifer A. Thomson, Eastern Washington University; Julia Nord, George Mason University; Philip Goodell, University of Texas at El Paso.

In the final analysis, the success or failure of any textbook depends on how it is received by students and teachers who use it. I hope you like Mineralogy and will tell me of things I can do to make it more useful and enjoyable.

Dexter Perkins

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