major nonfuel-mineral-producing areas in Virginia
Source: US Geological Survey, The Mineral Industry of Virginia (2014 Minerals Yearbook)
Each mineral has a distinct arrangement of atoms from its component elements, so each mineral has different properties. Laboratory experiments suggest there are over 500,000 possible combinations of the elements found on earth.
A total of perhaps 10,000 minerals may be found naturally on earth, but so far less than 5,600 have been identified from 300,000 localities around the world by the International Mineralogical Association. The number of known minerals grew by 25% after 2000, as scientists used new technology to analyze crystal structures and complex mathematics to predict how minerals could have formed.
As conditions on earth have changed over time, the number of possible minerals has expanded. For example, after cyanobacteria generated large quantities of oxygen and transformed earth's atmosphere, new copper minerals developed on earth. They included copper sulphates, expanding the number of copper-based minerals beyond the sulfides that formed before the Great Oxygenation Event.1
European colonists were not the first geologists or miners in the Western Hempisphere. Archeologists have discovered evidence that red ocher, rich in hematite (an iron oxide), was excavated from caves in Yucatan up to 12.000 years ago. Sea level rise later caused the caves to flood, protecting the evidence - including charred wood that was used to date the age of the mining activity.1
sand and grave mining is most common in the loose sedimentary formations of the Coastal Plain
Source: Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, "Mineral And Fossil Fuel Production In Virginia (1999-2003)," Sand and gravel extraction sites in Virginia with active permits during 1999-2003 (Figure 6)
all crushed stone operations are west of the Fall Line - on the Coastal Plain, gravel pits simply extract stone already crushed through natural erosion and transport
Source: Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, "Mineral And Fossil Fuel Production In Virginia (1999-2003)," Map of crushed stone operations in Virginia with active permits during 1999-2003 (Figure 10)
in 1890, the Norfolk and Western Railroad had a branch line at Crimora to manganese mines
Source: New York Public Library, Mineral territory tributary to Norfolk and Western Railroad (1890)
revenues from transporting mineral resources justified railroad development in southwestern Virginia
Source: David Rumsey Map Collection, Rand McNally," Virginia (1889)
minerals with more protons than iron were formed by the collision of two neutron stars or when the nickel-iron core collapsed in a Type II supernova
Source: NNational Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Messier 16 (The Eagle Nebula)