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Proposed new system for classifying minerals
  
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Don Lum




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PostPosted: Dec 27, 2020 21:41    Post subject: Re: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2021!  

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE !!!

Came across this article today.

http://www.mining.com/scientists-propose-new-evolutionary-system-of-mineral-classification/
(link normalized by FMF)

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Peter Farquhar
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PostPosted: Dec 28, 2020 12:30    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

Thanks Don for this link -- a very interesting article to read. I'm aware of related research on the increasingly important role of trace elements and impurities in analyzing minerals.

I wonder if others have comments on these studies, and their impacts on nomenclature, classification, and related issues in mineralogy.
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PostPosted: Dec 28, 2020 12:56    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

By itself, the article doesn't really say much. Although I value Hazen's work and think he has popularized something that many geoscientists already knew, I don't see how the proposal can be implemented in a reasonably straightforward way that doesn't lead to a proliferation of unnecessary terminology (jargon?). It seems to me that we already have terms that we can use as modifiers for mineral names if we need to talk about origin and history. But, I'll keep an open mind to see how this concept develops.
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Kevin Schofield




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PostPosted: Dec 28, 2020 14:01    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

Just No!

Just occasionally in science throwing everything in the air and re-arranging them as they come down into a different set of boxes can be both revelatory and useful. In the earth sciences, the power of the plate tectonic theory advanced in the sixties and seventies allowed geoscientists to reclassify their observations of earth structures into a powerful predictive framework for explaining the formation of basins and mountain belts. This had many knock-ons into the sub-branches of geoscience, for example providing a background against which sedimentary geologists developed the sequence stratigraphic models to explain and predict how basins fill.

One of the delightful things about the way that minerals are classified is that almost everything you need to know to identify and classify a crystalline mineral derives from simple geometry and chemistry (well, relatively simple!) that reflect the fundamental atomic structure of the material. The fact that the rules were put in place by scientists using simple equipment who worried about basic measurements has a lot to do with the power of those systems. Dana did a great job, Strunz "improved" on it a little, and most of us are really happy with that.

I greatly respect Prof. Hazen and the work he has done to establish the evolution of the mineral population of the planet as it evolved lithologically and atmospherically. It is very unclear to me as a working geologist and amateur mineralogist, however, that the philosophical approach of taking into account "Differences in a diamond or quartz crystal’s formative history" (to quote the Philosopher of Science in the article) is even remotely useful, let alone "critical".

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PostPosted: Dec 28, 2020 14:43    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

I, for one, find it hard to contain my skepticism, especially in the absence of some examples of what minerals in such a system would look like. I feel sure that if a survey were taken of all who can be reasonably considered mineralogists, the proposal would receive an overwhelming thumbs down.
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PostPosted: Dec 28, 2020 16:06    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

Bob Hazen is in some ways a dreamer - and I don't mean that in a bad sense. He is hugely intelligent and hugely imaginative - and somewhat of a salesman. This particular idea has been kicking around for several years at least, closely related to his very interesting work on how the biological evolution of the earth conditioned what minerals could form - particularly the evolution of a richly oxygenated atmosphere in the preCambrian.

I point out that the article ends with the statement "Our new evolutionary approach to classifying minerals COMPLEMENTS the existing protocol. (caps mine)" Complements. Not replaces. It may not be apparent from the article, which is after all a popular news article, but I doubt if Hazen and colleagues will propose to eliminate the current classification schemes.

One of the most interesting mineralogy texts I have read is by George Robinson. It is interesting because it organizes minerals in terms of their environments and processes of formation, not their chemistry and structure. In 1994, 30 years after I took my first mineralogy course, I was thrilled to read a book that organized much of the information in a cross-cutting way, a way that I did not think about enough. This is not a primary text on systematic mineralogy, but my appreciation of minerals is increased because I added it to my library.

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PostPosted: Dec 28, 2020 17:16    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

I agree with previous commenters that it seems illogical for this 'evolutionary system' to be introduced as a complete replacement of the current systems of mineralogical classification. That would be like proposing to get rid of all Linnaean taxonomy of biological species, and replacing it with a system that only takes into account how long ago a species developed, rather than looking at its genetic and physical characteristics.

Recording information about the development of minerals at various times in history certainly adds a lot of useful detail, but I don't see why that should require the complete replacement of current systems. Like Pete points out, and like the article says, it should complement current systems instead of supplant them.
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John Betts




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PostPosted: Dec 29, 2020 19:02    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

This sounds like reclassifying all vehicles as Hondas, Fords, or BMWs, etc. instead of as automobiles, motorcycles, trains, etc.

Classifying mineral species based on structural/chemistry, regardless of age or environment, seems more logical.

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Don Lum




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PostPosted: Dec 30, 2020 16:25    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

I think that I am starting to see a consensus. I thought I was going to have to change the information on all my mislabeled specimens. Whew! ;-)
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PostPosted: Dec 31, 2020 17:38    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

On December 22, 2020, John Stolz started a thread on Mindat entitled "Call for IMA to classify minerals using an 'evolutionary system'"
( https://zh.mindat.org/mesg-546207.html ). The Mindat thread deals with the same topic Don Lum raised five days later in this FMF thread. It's instructive to compare the two discussions and to correct some shared misunderstandings.

Both Mindat and FMF members appropriately criticized the press release for a somewhat confusing story -- particularly since the underlying research paper has yet to be published (“Historical Natural Kinds and Mineralogy: Systematizing contingency in the context of necessity (Cleland, C. E., Hazen, R. M. & S. M. Morrison), Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (2021) (in press)). After much criticism on the Mindat thread, Jolyon Ralph interjected, "Why don't you wait for the article rather than trying to debate the benefits or otherwise of something that you haven't seen yet?"

Like Pete Richards on the FMF thread, Carlos Santana noted on the Mindat thread that Robert Hazen's research group was "careful to suggest that their proposal is meant to "amplify" and "complement" the extant typology based on chemical composition and crystal structure, not utterly replace it, but this doesn't necessarily come out in press releases."

Moreover, Carlos Santana also provided links to a couple of articles by Hazen's research group that explain more fully their work. A few days later, the Mindat thread continued with more detailed perspectives in an insightful discussion of Hazen's research by Harold Moritz, Ralph Bottrill, Erin Delventhal, Keith Compton, and others. I encourage you to read the Mindat thread. In particular, Jolyon Ralph has been a co-author with Hazen's group on several papers, and his remarks on this Mindat thread are especially relevant to mineralogists.

This FMF thread seems to have gotten stuck. I'll follow Pete Richards' and Carlos Santana's lead in suggesting a few published research papers from Robert Hazen's group to hopefully energize this FMF discussion.

(1) This award-winning publication follows Robert Hazen's receiving the 2016 Roebling Medal from the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA).

Robert M. Hazen (2019), "An evolutionary system of mineralogy: Proposal for a classification of planetary materials based on natural kind clustering," American Mineralogist, Volume 104, pages 810–816.
http://www.minsocam.org/MSA/ammin/toc/2019/open_access/AM104P0810.pdf

(2) After years of effort, Hazen's group has merged all of the open-access mineral databases (e.g., Mindat, RRuff, IMA, ...) and resources (e.g., Handbook of Mineralogy) into a single comprehensive database, GEMI. Several publications now use "big data" analytical tools to generate exciting new findings, included targeted discoveries of new mineral occurrences.

Anirudh Prabhu et al. (2020). "Global earth mineral inventory: A data legacy," Geoscience Data Journal.
https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/gdj3.106

Robert M. Hazen et al. (2019), Data-Driven Discovery in Mineralogy: Recent Advances in Data Resources, Analysis, and Visualization," Engineering, volume 5, pp. 397-405.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095809918313055?via%3Dihub

(3) The following publication is an Invited Centennial Article for the 100-year anniversary of the Mineralogical Society of America (MSA). The paper deals with the role of rare mineral species and the discovery of new minerals. Personally, I have found this line of research work valuable in formulating testable hypotheses to explain why rutile eightlings occur at only a handful of the 5600+ known worldwide localities and to suggest localities where prospectors might look for new finds.

Robert M. Hazen and Jesse H. Ausubel (2016), "On the nature and significance of rarity in mineralogy," American Mineralogist, Volume 101, pp. 1245-1251.
https://www.degruyter.com/view/journals/ammin/101/6/article-p1245.xml?language=en

A final word of caution from Carlos Santana on the Mindat thread, "I don't want to play devil's advocate too strongly here, since I have serious reservations about their evolutionary system of mineralogy, but I do think that if you judge it based on a news article, you're not giving it a fair shake."
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PostPosted: Dec 31, 2020 21:48    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

Robert Hazen also gave a lecture on these approaches and ideas at the Dallas Symposium in 2017. The CDs were circulated by Min Record, as I recall. So, many of you probably have them. I encourage you to watch and listen to his lecture. Unless you have a PhD in statistics, you probably won't be able to independently evaluate whether he is a genius or blowing smoke, but enjoy the talk anyway! It is one of the most original, exciting talks I have heard/seen in a long time.
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PostPosted: Jan 01, 2021 12:19    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

Thanks Pete for reminding us about Robert Hazen's presentation at the 2017 Dallas Mineral Collecting Symposium. For those interested in "social network analysis applied to mineral discovery" you can find Hazen's presentation on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdJUORgOHIk or among all of the symposium presentations at https://vimeo.com/showcase/dmcs-2017

As someone with PhD in this field, I know Hazen is not "blowing smoke" here. These tools have been successfully used in other applications since the 1970s, and have begun "to predict mineral occurrences, including locations of rare minerals, valuable ore deposits, and Earth’s hundreds of “missing” minerals."
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PostPosted: Jan 02, 2021 02:46    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

Peter

Thank you for reminding us to read the actual research.

In my own life I live in 'fear' of a journalist taking some good research and creating a false headline and a content-free article that people pass on to me as something wonderful. Most of my friends have learned to not bother. I try to read the actual research and think what the right headline would have been.

I also have a total phobia of percentages, and if an article uses them in the headline I know it will be wrong as the journalist is certain to have misunderstood or miscalculated them.

So go back to the original research; ignore all percentages and you might get a real understanding of what the people did and found (but, sadly, you will often find math mistakes in the original research)
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PostPosted: Jan 06, 2021 19:38    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

Pete Richards wrote:
One of the most interesting mineralogy texts I have read is by George Robinson. It is interesting because it organizes minerals in terms of their environments and processes of formation, not their chemistry and structure. In 1994, 30 years after I took my first mineralogy course, I was thrilled to read a book that organized much of the information in a cross-cutting way, a way that I did not think about enough.


Thanks Pete for the recommendation of George Robinson's 1994 book, "Minerals." I just acquired an old copy and found it's a very worth-while read for all the reasons you suggested. Note it preceded Hazen's work by more than a decade.
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PostPosted: Jan 07, 2021 04:52    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

Peter Farquhar wrote:
Thanks Pete for the recommendation of George Robinson's 1994 book, "Minerals." I just acquired an old copy and found it's a very worth-while read for all the reasons you suggested. Note it preceded Hazen's work by more than a decade.

I also own Robinson's book, that I bought in 2009. It's the best you can find about mineralogenesis.

I deeply recommend the book The Story of Earth by Robert Hazen, pictured below. I don't get tired of rereading it quite often. It's a really outstanding book. Even an addictive book (in my opinion).



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"The Story of Earth" by Robert Hazen, an outstanding book.
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PostPosted: Jan 07, 2021 11:01    Post subject: Re: Proposed new system for classifying minerals  

I sat next to Dr. Robert Hazen during lunch at the Dallas Symposium and had a fascinating conversation. I have a signed copy of his book.
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