Minerals are naturally occurring substances that make up the foundation of our planet. They are vital to several industries, including construction, manufacturing, and technology. However, not all minerals are created equal. Some of them are incredibly soft and fragile, while others are incredibly tough and durable. When it comes to the hardest mineral on Earth, scientists have long debated which one takes the crown. In this article, we will unveil the tough-as-nails champion.
What is Mineral Hardness?
Before we dive into which mineral is the hardest on Earth, we need to understand what mineral hardness is. Mineral hardness is a measure of a mineral’s ability to resist scratching or abrasion. It is measured on the Mohs hardness scale, which ranges from 1 to 10. The scale was created by Friedrich Mohs in 1812 and is based on the comparative ability of minerals to scratch one another.
The Mohs Hardness Scale
The Mohs hardness scale is as follows:
The Hardest Mineral on Earth: Diamond
The hardest mineral on Earth is diamond, which has a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale. It is composed of pure carbon atoms arranged in a crystalline structure. Diamonds are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle under extreme heat and pressure. They are then brought to the surface through volcanic eruptions or mining.
Why is Diamond so Hard?
Diamond is so hard because of its unique crystal structure. Each carbon atom is bonded to four other carbon atoms in a tetrahedron arrangement. This creates an incredibly strong and rigid three-dimensional lattice structure. The carbon-carbon bonds are so strong that it takes a lot of force to break them apart.
Other Hard Minerals on Earth
While diamond is the undisputed champion when it comes to hardness, there are other minerals on Earth that are incredibly hard. Some of these include:
- Moissanite – A naturally occurring silicon carbide mineral with a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale.
- Taaffeite – A rare mineral that was first discovered in Sri Lanka in 1945. It has a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale.
- Beryllium – This mineral has a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale and is frequently used in aerospace and nuclear industries.
Why is Mineral Hardness Important?
Mineral hardness is incredibly important for several reasons. In the construction industry, it is important to use durable materials that can withstand wear and tear. In the manufacturing industry, it is important to use materials that can be machined or ground into precise shapes without becoming damaged. In the jewelry industry, it is important to use hard minerals that can withstand daily wear.
How is Mineral Hardness Measured?
Mineral hardness is measured using the Mohs hardness scale. A mineral’s hardness is determined by its ability to scratch another mineral. For example, if a mineral can scratch quartz but is scratched by topaz, it has a hardness between 7 and 8 on the Mohs scale.
What are the Different Types of Mineral Hardness?
There are several different types of mineral hardness:
- Scratch hardness – This is the measure of a mineral’s ability to scratch other minerals.
- Indentation hardness – This is the measure of a mineral’s ability to resist indentations from harder materials.
- Impact hardness – This is the measure of a mineral’s ability to withstand impact from other materials.
Diamond is the hardest mineral on Earth, with a hardness of 10 on the Mohs scale. However, there are other minerals on Earth that are incredibly hard and durable. Mineral hardness is important in several industries and is measured using the Mohs scale. It is vital to use hard and durable materials in construction, manufacturing, and jewelry making.
Common Questions about the Hardest Mineral on Earth
- What is the hardest natural substance in the world? The hardest natural substance in the world is diamond.
- What is the Mohs hardness scale? The Mohs hardness scale is a measure of a mineral’s ability to resist scratching or abrasion. It ranges from 1 to 10.
- What is the softest mineral on Earth? The softest mineral on Earth is talc, which has a hardness of 1 on the Mohs scale.
- What is the second hardest mineral on Earth? The second hardest mineral on Earth is moissanite, which has a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale.
- Why is mineral hardness important? Mineral hardness is important in several industries, including construction, manufacturing, and jewelry making. Hard and durable materials are needed to withstand wear and tear.
- Mohs, F. (1812). Ueber die Härte der mineralien. 2:129-135.
- Garner, K. (2004). The hardness of minerals and rocks. Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, 58(8), 34-37.
- Corundum. (n.d.). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/science/corundum