Mineralogy is an earth science focussed around the chemistry, crystal structure
, and physical (including optical) properties of minerals. Studies also include the processes of mineral creation and destruction.
Historically, mineralogy was heavily concerned with taxonomy of the rock-forming minerals; to this end, the International Mineralogical Association is an organization whose members are organizations representing mineralogists in individual countries. Its activities include managing naming of minerals (via the Commission of New Minerals and Mineral Names), location of known minerals, etc. As of 2004 there are over 4000 species of mineral recognized by the IMA. Of these, perhaps 150 can be called "common," another 50 are "occasional," and the rest are "rare" to "extremely rare."
More recently, driven by advances in experimental technique (such as neutron diffraction) and available computational power, the latter of which has enabled extremely accurate atomic-scale simulations of the behaviour of crystals, the science has branched out to consider more general problems in the fields of inorganic chemistry and solid-state physics. It, however, retains a focus on the crystal
structures commonly encountered in rock-forming minerals (such as the perovskites, clays and framework silicates). In particular, the field has made great advances in the understanding of the relationship between the atomic-scale structure of minerals and their function; in nature, prominent examples would be accurate measurement and prediction of the elastic properties of minerals, which has led to new insight into seismological behaviour of rocks and depth-related discontinuities in seismograms of the Earth's mantle. To this end, in their focus on the connection between atomic-scale phenomena and macroscopic properties, the mineral sciences (as they are now commonly known) display perhaps more of an overlap with materials science than any other discipline.
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