A mineral is a natural solid with a characteristic crystal shape. Mineral crystals can form when hot water containing dissolved minerals cools down and forms a solid. Rocks on the other hand are made of mineral pieces mixed together. Rocks are made through the rock cycle! Read more about it below.
To better understand rocks & minerals…
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN!
Minerals can form when water within Earth becomes saturated.
Minerals are solids that occur naturally and have a characteristic crystal shape. Hot water deep within Earth flows through cracks, where it can dissolve different substances. When hot water flows toward the surface, it cools and forms crystals. Hot water dissolves more minerals than cold water. When the water becomes saturated (can’t hold any more) with dissolved substances or cools, the water cannot hold onto all the dissolved minerals, and the minerals begin to crystallize on hard surfaces. Examples of minerals that form this way include gold, pyrite, and galena.
Rocks are made of minerals mixed together.
Minerals combine to form rocks. There are three basic types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. Within those three rock types are many other subtypes of rocks that are named based on the minerals they are made up of and their crystalline structure. Igneous rocks are formed from hot magma that cools below the surface or lava that cools quickly above the surface. Metamorphic rocks are formed when rocks are exposed to heat, pressure, or both heat and pressure. Metamorphic rocks typically form at plate boundaries and next to intrusions of magma. Sedimentary rocks are formed from weathered bits of rocks (sediments). These sediments are deposited into layers. The weight of overlying layers compact the layers of sediment below, and water flowing through the layers deposits minerals that cement the grains together.