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No matter where you are, quartz is probably nearby. It is the most common mineral on Earth. When we think of quartz, most of us picture a beautiful, clear, shiny crystal. But most quartz is hidden in sand or rocks such as granite. Often, it is gray and dull.

The Mini Page talked with an expert from the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C., to learn more about this mineral of many faces.

Creating quartz

Quartz is made up of two elements, oxygen and silica. An element (EL-uh-muhnt) is a substance that cannot be broken apart into different substances.

Oxygen and silica are two of the most abundant elements on Earth. This means the building blocks of quartz are plentiful, and so a lot of quartz can be created.

Top mineral

A mineral is a natural, nonliving, crystal-like substance. Often, we obtain minerals by mining them from the Earth.

Quartz is the most plentiful mineral on the planet because it lasts and lasts. This tough mineral resists change by stresses such as fire, wind or water. Even after other minerals are worn away from the rocks, quartz is usually still there.

The quartz and rock duo

We find quartz in almost every type of rock on Earth. Quartz is in igneous (IG-nee-us) rock, or rock made from volcanic activity. It is in sedimentary (sed-uh-MEN-tur-ee) rock, which is made by material packed together in water. It is in metamorphic (met-uh-MOR-fik) rock, or rock that has been changed by stresses such as heat or pressure.

Hard as a rock

The hardness of minerals is rated from 1 to 10, with 10 being the hardest. Diamonds have a 10 rating. Talc, a soft mineral, is rated 1. Quartz is rated 7. Quartz’s hardness helps it stay around for a long time.