Difference Between Silicate and Nonsilicate Minerals

Main Difference – Silicate vs Nonsilicate Minerals

Minerals are naturally occurring substances made from geological processes. There are many different types of minerals. Silicate minerals and Nonsilicate minerals are such two types. They differ from each other according to the presence or absence of silicate groups. A silicate group is composed of one silicon atom bonded to four oxygen atoms. The formula of silicate group is -SiO4-. Both silicate minerals and nonsilicate minerals can be further categorized according to the composition. The main difference between silicate minerals and nonsilicate minerals is that silicate minerals are composed of silicate groups whereas Nonsilicate minerals have no silicate groups.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Silicate Minerals
      – Definition, Different Types with Examples and Uses
2. What are Nonsilicate Minerals
      – Definition, Different Types, and Examples
3. What is the Difference Between Silicate and Nonsilicate Minerals
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Minerals, Nonsilicate Minerals, Silicate Group, Silicate Minerals, SiliconDifference Between Silicate and Nonsilicate Minerals - Comparison Summary

What are Silicate Minerals

Silicate minerals are minerals composed of silicate groups. The silicate group is composed of one silicon atom bonded to four oxygen atoms. It is given as –SiO4-. The structure of this silicate group is known as a silicon-oxygen tetrahedron. This is because the oxygen atoms around the silicon atom are in the shape of a tetrahedron. Silicate minerals are the rock-forming minerals.

There are different types of silicate minerals that can be found naturally. Some of these types are Nesosilicates or orthosilicates, Sorosilicates, Cyclosilicates, etc. These minerals are different from each other according to the arrangement of the silicon-oxygen tetrahedron. However, the silicate minerals fall into four major groups.

  • Isolated tetrahedra –  olivine
  • Chains of tetrahedra –  pyroxenes, amphiboles
  • Sheets – Mica, clay
  • Frameworkquartz, feldspar

Some common examples of silicate minerals are quartz, feldspar, olivines and garnet minerals. Quartz is a common mineral that can be found on the earth surface. For example, rocks, sandstones are all made out of quartz.

Main Difference - Silicate vs Nonsilicate Minerals

Figure 1: Quartz

Silicate minerals are very useful resources for many industrial productions. For example, quartz is used in the production of glass, computers, etc. Clay is important in the production of pots and other household needs. Most importantly, weathering of these silicate minerals forms the soil on earth.

What are Nonsilicate Minerals

Nonsilicate minerals are minerals that are not composed of silicate groups. These minerals may contain oxygen atoms but not in combination with silicon. Nonsilicate minerals are less complex than silicate minerals.

Six Major Classes of Nonsilicate Minerals

  • Oxides – Oxides are composed of various types of cations bonded to oxide anion
  • Sulfides – Sulfides are composed of various types of cations bonded to sulfide anions
  • Carbonates – Carbonates are composed of various types of cations bonded to carbonate anions
  • Sulfates – Sulfates are composed of various types of cations bonded to sulfate anions
  • Halides – Halides are composed of various types of cations bonded to chloride and fluoride anions
  • Phosphates – Phosphates are composed of various types of cations bonded to phosphate anions
Difference Between Silicate and Nonsilicate Minerals

Figure 2: Gypsum is a Nonsilicate Mineral

Therefore, all minerals except silicate minerals are categorized as nonsilicate minerals. These minerals have a wide range of applications in industrial productions, constructions, etc.

Difference Between Silicate and Nonsilicate Minerals

Definition

Silicate Minerals: Silicate minerals are minerals composed of silicate groups.

Nonsilicate Minerals: Nonsilicate minerals are minerals that are not composed of silicate groups.

Complexity

Silicate Minerals: Silicate minerals have highly complex structures.

Nonsilicate Minerals: Nonsilicate minerals have less complex structures when compared to silicate minerals.

Different Types

Silicate Minerals:  Silicate minerals can be divided into four major groups. They are isolated tetrahedra, chains of tetrahedra, sheets, and framework.

Nonsilicate Minerals: Nonsilicate minerals can be found in six different types as oxides, sulfides, sulfates, halides, phosphates, and carbonates.

Conclusion

All minerals on the earth can be categorized into silicate minerals and nonsilicate minerals. This classification is done according to the presence or absence of silicate groups in minerals. The main difference between silicate minerals and nonsilicate minerals is that silicate minerals are composed of silicate groups whereas nonsilicate minerals have no silicate groups.

References:

1. “Comparing Silicate & Non-Silicate Minerals.” Study.com,  Available here.
2. EGGER, ANNE E. “The Silicate Minerals.” Visionlearning, Available here.
3. “NON-SILICATES.” Auburn University, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Quartz, Sphalerite, Pyrite, Mangano Calcite, Rhodochrosite 1″ By JJ Harrison ([email protected]) – Own work (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Gips – Lubin, Poland.” By Elade53 – Kolekcja: Lech Darski (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Madhusha

Madhusha is a BSc (Hons) graduate in the field of Biological Sciences and is currently pursuing for her Masters in Industrial and Environmental Chemistry. Her interest areas for writing and research include Biochemistry and Environmental Chemistry.

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