Mineralogy Matters is a series of articles highlighting where mineralogy (broadly defined) is of fundamental importance to understanding an issue or problem in topic areas ranging from Earth resources to the global environment.
Proposals for future articles are welcome and should be sent to the Elements Executive Editor, or to the Series Editor, David Vaughan, at email@example.com
Cements Around the Ancient World: Holding it Together Since the Dawn of Lime
Bu Isabel F. Barton | October, 2022
How to form blocks into a durable structure was a dilemma that confronted our ancestors almost as soon as they decided to settle in one place. Getting the blocks was laborious but simple; if there were no stones around to quarry and dress, a sun-dried or baked mix of mud and straw could make a decent brick. But putting these blocks together into a wall that could withstand time and the elements? That took one of two things: money, or lime.
From Mexico to Mycenae, the wealthiest could afford to have teams of masons cut and dress stones and fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Not even a knife blade could slide between the cracks of this Cyclopean or megalithic (sometimes called drystone) construction.
Carbon is one of a small number of elements that occur in the “native” state. The two most dominant naturally occurring forms of carbon are graphite and diamond, and these could hardly be more different in their properties: diamond is the hardest known natural material, whereas graphite is one of the softest (see Hazen et al. 2013 for a review of carbon mineralogy). Maybe for some, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”, but I would argue that “graphite is one of society’s most useful minerals”. The focus of this article is on graphite and, more particularly, on the closely related material graphene. And graphene is important because of its extraordinary properties and potential range of applications.Read More
Boron is a quintessential element of the Earth’s upper continental crust. Processes that created the upper continental crust also enriched it in boron, and, as a result, a great diversity of boron minerals are among the most accessible of useful compounds to humankind, even in antiquity. And humankind is most fortunate that crustal processes have…Read More