USGS - science for a changing world

GMEG - Mineral and Environmental Resources

Mineral Facts and FAQ's

Are you a Teacher? Download:

The following links direct the user to a variety of file formats.
.pdf files may be viewed using Adobe Acrobat Reader, .doc/.xls/.ppt files may be viewed using various Microsoft Office products

The Lifecycle of a Mineral Deposit - A teacher's Guide for Hands-On Mineral Education Activities

Minerals in our Environment - A poster in .pdf format

Minerales en nuestro ambiente (Spanish version of above poster)

Mineral Resources out of the ground...into our daily lives - A poster in .pdf format

Educational materials available from the U.S. Geological Survey

USGS Education Resources for Teachers (1.2MB .pdf file)

Do We Take Minerals for Granted?


From energy, construction, and agriculture, to communications, transportation, and national defense, at home, work, or play, we all use or require minerals and mineral materials every day.

What is a mineral ?

A naturally occurring inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties.

What's the difference between a rock and a mineral ?

A rock is an aggregate of one or more minerals; or a body of undifferentiated mineral matter

How do we get minerals ?

Minerals must be mined from the ground, either by surface, underground, or drilling methods. Sand and gravel is usually mined in surface pits or rock is crushed to size, gold is mined in surface pits, underground mines, and in streams and rivers.

Did you know ?

A telephone contains over 40 different mineral materials, a television set has about 35, and an automobile about 15.

Of the approximately 193,000 metric tons of gold discovered, 62% is found in just four countries on earth. All the gold discovered thus far would fit in a cube 22 meters on a side.

Of the approximately 1,740,000 metric tons of silver discovered, 55% is found in just four countries on earth. All the silver discovered thus far would fit in a cube 55 meters on a side.

At today's level of consumption, the average newborn infant will need a lifetime supply of 854 pounds of lead, 776 pounds of zinc, 1,319 pounds of copper, 32,980 pounds of iron, 21,418 pounds of clays, 31,040 pounds of salt, and 1.71 million pounds of stone, sand, gravel, and 72,994 pounds of cement. (figures from Minerals Information Institute)

What is the meaning of the karat mark on gold jewelry? The fineness of jewelry gold is stated as the number of parts in twenty-four that are gold. Thus, 24 karat gold is pure gold; 12 K would be an alloy that is half gold and half copper or other metals.

Fool's Gold can be one of three minerals; the most common mineral mistaken for gold is pyrite, chalcopyrite may also appear gold-like, and weathered biotite mica can mimic flake gold.


More Fun Facts about minerals and mineral materials.


Return to Mineral and Environmental Resources

 USGS geologists collect data about mineral deposits
 USGS cientists conduct mineral resource assessments on Federal lands
 Panning for gold, concentrated in streams over time
 Gold has many uses
 Mineral Resources Eastern /  Central /  Western /  Alaska /  Minerals Information
Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry /  Spatial Data

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