Rocks & Minerals

Regents Prep: Earth Science: Rocks & Minerals: Introduction


Rocks and minerals are the source of almost every material that is produced on the Earth. Most objects that we commonly use today originate from a rocks or minerals source. Without the mining of coal, humans would not be able to fuel machinery to produce many of the products that are used today in society. Rocks and minerals also provide the raw materials necessary to build homes or any other construction project. In fact, the mineral gypsum is the main material in sheet rock, which is widely used as the wall structure for most new construction.

The solid portion of the Earth’s crust, the lithosphere, is composed of naturally occurring materials made up of one or more minerals, called rock. All rocks are composed of minerals.

The image below, taken from the Earth Science Reference Tables, shows how different rock types form from one another.


Minerals are the building blocks for all rocks. Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic, crystalline, solid materials with definite chemical composition, molecular structure, and certain physical properties. Of the more than 2000 minerals on Earth, about a dozen of them make up about 90% of the Earth’s crust.

Identifying Rocks and Minerals

Many students have trouble with the identification of rocks and minerals. If you happen to be one of those students please take your Earth Science reference tables out and carefully read over the sections on rocks and minerals. Pages 6, 7, and 16 in the Earth Science Reference Tables are where one will find the necessary information to complete proper rock and mineral identification. For more on rocks and minerals and how to properly identify each refer to the links in the upper left-hand corner of this page. Then go to the multiple-choice questions and your textbook for further practice.

Earth Science Rocks and Minerals Topics