EENS 2110


Fall 2013

Dr. Stephen A. Nelson

  Office:  Rm 208 Blessey Hall
   Office Phone: 504-862-3194
Office Hours: MWF 1:00 -3:00 PM

I.  COURSE GOALS & OBJECTIVESSince minerals are the basic building blocks of earth materials, this course is designed to give the student a fundamental background in minerals, necessary to understand processes.  The student will learn the basic principles behind the arrangement of atoms to form crystal structures, how these atoms are coordinated and bonded and how this is reflected in the external form, chemical composition, and physical properties of the crystals..  The student will learn how to identify the most common minerals in hand specimen and, by using optical techniques, learn how to identify the common minerals in thin section.


There are two required textbooks for this course. The first is required reading for the course and the second is a general reference that you will also use in Petrology next semester.

  1. Earth Materials , by Hefferan and O'Brien (H&O). This text covers crystallography, crystal structure, and crystal chemistry and has useful mineral identification tables. It will be used extensively for lectures at the beginning and end of the course.

  2. An Introduction to the Rock Forming Minerals, 2nd Edition, by W.A. Deer, R.A. Howie, and J. Zussman (DHZ). This is a general reference text covering identification of minerals with the petrographic microscope. It will be used in the lab during the second half of the course and will serve as a reference book in EENS-2120 next semester.

The course grade will be determined on the basis of the number of points scored out of a possible 1000 points. These points will be apportioned as follows:


Homework & Labs 15% Midterm Exam 20%
Lab Exam I  10% Lab Final Exam  20%
Lab Exam II 10% Final Exam 25%


NOTE: The pre-requisite for enrollment in EENS 2120, Petrology, is a grade of C- or better in EENS 2110, Mineralogy.    
Lecture notes and other course materials can be found on the EENS 2110 web page.  This can be found at 

Handouts for the Laboratory exercises can be found on the My Tulane (Blackboard) site for EENS-2111-41, if for some reaon you don't get them in class.



  1. The student will gain an understanding of how atoms interact to form minerals and how the structure and chemical composition of minerals determine the properties and occurrence of minerals.
  2. The student will learn how to identify the common minerals in hand specimen.
  3. The student will learn how to identify the common rock forming minerals in thin section.



Aug. 30 Lecture: Introduction to Symmetry Operations H&O pp. 75- 84
Lab: Elements of Crystal Symmetry Lab handout
Sept. 1 Lecture: The 32 Crystal Classes H&O pp. 75- 84
Lab: Elements of Crystal Symmetry (continued) Lab handout
Sept. 6 Lecture: Crystal Morphology, Crystal Symmetry, Crystallographic axes H&O pp. 84- 89
Lab: Crystallographic Axes and Introduction to Crystal forms Lab handout
Sept. 8 Lecture: Axial Ratios, Weiss parameters, Miller Indices H&O pp. 89- 96
Lab: Miller Indices of Crystal Faces and Crystal Forms Lab handout
Sept.13 Lecture: Crystal Form, Zones, Crystal Habit, 32 Crystal Classes H&O pp.96-100
Lab: Stereographic Projection of Crystal Faces, Crystal angles, and Zones Lecture Notes on web
Sept. 15 Lecture: Crystallographic Calculations Lecture notes on web
Lab: Crystallographic Angles and Axial Ratio Calculations Lab handout
Sept. 20 Lecture: X-ray crystallography: the powder method Lecture Notes
Lab: X-ray Powder diffraction demonstration
        Ionic Spacing in Halite
Lab handout
Sept. 22 Lecture: Twinning in crystals, Polymorphism, Polytypism, Pseudomorphism H&O pp. 100-101
Lab: Twinning and physical properties of Minerals Lab handout
Sept. 27 Lecture: Physical Properties of Minerals H&O pp. 111-128
Lab: LAB EXAM I - Crystallography  
Sept. 29 Lecture: Crystal Chemistry H&O pp. 19-39
Lab: Mineral Identification -  native elements, sulfates, sulfides, oxides, hydroxides, halides

FG. Lab handout

Oct. 4 Lecture: Coordination and Pauling's Rules H&O pp. 39-43
Lab: Mineral Identification - halides, carbonates, tungstates, molybdates, borates, chromates, phosphates, and arsenates FG, Lab handout
Oct. 6 Lecture: Mineral Chemistry H&O pp. 42-50
Lab: Mineral Identification - Neso-, soro-, and ino- silicates FG, Lab handout
Oct. 11 Lecture: Mineral Stability, phase diagrams

H&O pp. 50-65

Lecture Notes

Lab: Mineral Identification - cyclo- and phyllo- silicates FG, Lab handout
Oct. 13 Fall Break - no class  
Oct.  18 Lecture: Binary phase diagrams, congruent melting

H&O pp. 50-65

Lecture Notes

Lab: Mineral Identification - tectosilicates FG, Lab handout
Oct.  20 Lecture: Binary phase diagrams, incongruent melting, solid solution, and exsolution

H&O pp. 50-65

Lecture Notes

Lab: Phase Diagrams Lecture Notes
Oct. 25

Lecture: Properties of Light: reflection, refraction, dispersion, and refractive indices, Isotropic Minerals, the immersion method, isotropic indicatrix

H&O pp.145-164

Lecture Notes

Lab: LAB EXAM II Mineral Identification  
Oct.  27 Lecture: MIDTERM EXAM  
Lab: Optics Lab I. Properties of Light and Introduction to Isotropic Materials

Lecture Notes

Lab handout

Nov. 1 Lecture: Uniaxial minerals, uniaxial indicatrix, optic sign, & ray path 

H&O pp. 164-167

Lecture Notes

Lab: Optics Lab II. Introduction to Anisotropic Substances Lab handout
Nov. 3 Lecture: Interference phenomena, compensation & optic sign

Lecture Notes

Lab:Optics Lab III. Interference and Compensation Lab handout
Nov.  8 Lecture: Uniaxial Interference Figures

H&O pp. 167-172

Lecture Notes

Lab: Optics Lab IV. Uniaxial Interference Figures and Summary of Uniaxial Optical Properties Lab handout
Nov. 10 Lecture: Biaxial Minerals

H&O pp. 172-181

Lecture Notes

Lab: Optics Lab V. Biaxial Minerals Lab handout
Nov. 15 Lecture: Silicate Structures

H&O pp. 42-45

Lecture Notes

Lab: Optics Lab VI. Identification of Olivines and Pyroxenes - Calculation of mineral formulae. DHZ
Nov. 17 Lecture: Olivines, Garnets, Aluminosilicates, Pyroxenes and Amphiboles H&O pp. 128-140
Lecture Notes
Lab: Optics Lab VII. Identification of Al2SiO5 minerals and amphiboles. DHZ
Nov. 22 Lecture: Micas, serpentine, and chlorite

H&O pp. 128-140

Lecture Notes

Lab: Optics Lab VIII. Identification of Phyllosilicates DHZ
Nov. 24 Thanksgiving Holiday - no class  
Nov. 29 Lecture: Clay Minerals Lecture Notes
Lab: Optics Lab IX. Identification of Feldspars and Feldspathoids, DHZ, Handout
Dec. 1 Lecture: Tectosilicates Lecture Notes
Optics Lab X. Determination of Plagioclase Composition DHZ, Handout
Dec. 6 Lecture: Carbonates, oxides, & accessory minerals

H&) p. 140 -144

Lecture Notes

Lab: Optics Lab XI. Identification of Common Metamorphic and Accessory Minerals DHZ
Dec. 8 Lecture: Catch-up and Review Session  
Lab:  Catch-up and Review
Dec. 12 Lecture Final Examination 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Dec. 15 Lab Final Examination 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Obtain a PDF version of the syllabus 

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