Monday, December 10, 2012

APEX Minerals in the Periodic Table of Elements

A mineral that contains the highest concentration (by weight) of a particular element that is readily obtainable from primary ore samples in a quantity that can be viewed with the naked eye.

This definition is purposefully fuzzy.

  1. "Readily obtainable" means that I can find it at a mineral show or on EBAY for a cheap price.  It means I can afford it.  I have no desire to collect expensive minerals or go on some extended search for some obscure item.
  2. "Primary ore" means I prefer minerals from non-weathered rocks.  There are a large variety of geologic processes which create various minerals.  This is ok.  What I want to avoid is minerals that have resulted from just general climatic weathering (evaporation, oxidation) since these are by their nature very transient.  Another category I want to avoid is "organic" minerals.  There are a variety of mineral deposits that are organic in origin but I really don't want to count that as "Primary ore".  Another category I want to avoid is "salts".  These are formed as evaporites or in volcanic fumaroles.  They are destroyed on contact with water and make poor permanent collections.
  3. "Naked eye" means I have to get a big enough sample to see.  There thousands of minerals which could be APEX except for that fact that they really only exist in microscopic quantities.

In several instances my APEX rules are ignored in the interest of actually having something to display.
  1. Sometimes the highest occurring element concentration is too expensive or is not common enough to be readily available.  We choose the next best choice.
  2. Sometimes the element normally only exists as a Salt so we choose one of these. (e.g. most Sodium minerals are Salts)
  3. Sometimes the Organic mineral is the only available source for the element.  (e.g. there are NO inorganic Nitrogen minerals)

In the beginning, MEOWSER was going to be a 100% Element collection with just the Periodic Table browser.  However I quickly realized this was going to be somewhat boring.  The vast majority of the elements are gray metals.  A cabinet full of these metals didn't seem quite so appealing.  Minerals are much more interesting.  They come in many colors, shapes, textures, etc.  Minerals also are conveniently packaged together into things called rocks which means just one chunk of stuff in my cabinet can represent quite a variety of different elements.  Sold.

Once I started identifying the minerals I wanted, I could have just picked the prettiest.  But somehow I wanted to be more objective.  That's when I hit upon the idea of the mineral with the highest concentration of the element.  Obviously there is still a subjective element of which mineral best satisfies my APEX mineral definition.  My evaluation of which mineral is "APEX" was based primarily on my Google and eBay searches.  If I found very few images or I found no eBay listings it failed my APEX test.

If you can think of a better term for this than "APEX Mineral", please let me know.