Mineralogy at a Crossroads

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Science  13 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5430, pp. 1026-1027
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5430.1026

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Mineralogy, for a long time defined as the study of naturally occurring crystalline compounds formed as a results of inorganic processes, is at a crossroads. The above definition is now seen as far too restrictive, and a wider definition includes new high pressure/temperature minerals not yet found on Earth, amorphous, nano-, and mesoscopic materials and their dimensionality-dependent properties, extraterrestrial rocks, biologically precipitated minerals, and the role of minerals in the evolution of life. At the interface to technology, mineralogy is providing a stimulus both in terms of the materials studied and the tools applied to their investigation. The interdisciplinary nature of mineralogy is illustrated in an overview of recent developments in the field.