THE MINERAL ICE
Ice is not often thought of as a mineral, but it is! Most mineralogists define minerals as having an homogenous chemical composition, with an organized structure and of a natural inorganic origin. Ice fits all these characteristics; it has a homogenous formula, H2O, it has an organized structure, with hexagonal symmetry, it is formed naturally as snow, etc. and it is formed inorganically.
Only natural ice counts as a mineral such as snow, natural lake or river ice, glacieral ice and permafrost. Liquid water does not get the same consideration (as to being a mineral) by most mineralogists because it lacks the crystalline structure of ice. However native mercury is routinely treated as a mineral.
Although no known specimens of ice are sold as mineral specimens, there are scientists that study ice and its crystals for some very important reasons. Questions such as how ice crystals form in clouds is important to weather forecasters and climatologists. Glaciologists study the behavior of ice crystals under extreme pressure and how they begin to flow. Physicists are concerned with ice crystals on other planets where their presence is not taken for granted.
The images on this page are courtesy of Kenneth G. Libbrecht, author of the excellent site and reference on snow crystals at www.snowcrystals.com. The photos on this page may not be copied without his permission.
The photos to the right identify the major types of snowflakes, and are taken from the page A Guide To Snowflakes which describes the growing conditions conducive to each of these formations. Note that the complex shapes of natural snowflakes largely result from the constantly changing temperature and humidity encountered by a snowflake as it forms.
I heartily recommend the website www.snowcrystals.com as it displays dozens of ice crystal images (snowflakes), and provides additional information on the growth and structure of ice crystals, how to grow your own, snow crystal photography, plus related topics. Professor Libbrecht is also the author of several books on snowflakes which may be purchased at his site, including Ken Libbrecht's Field Guide to Snowflakes.
Fernlike Stellar Dendrites
Split Plates and Stars
is Steve's pro-humanity, pro-space, pro-future blog, and a forum to discuss his talks at the International Space Development Conference (sponsored by the National Space Society).
You can make a difference!Help President Obama, NASA, and the people of Earth. See the
for solutions to:
- Global Warming
- Global Energy
- Man in Space
- Preventing the next Extinction Level Event