Statistical analysis of mineral diversity and distribution: Earth's mineralogy is unique

Grethe Hystad, Robert T. Downs, Edward S. Grew, Robert M. Hazen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Earth's mineralogical diversity arises from both deterministic processes and frozen accidents. We apply statistical methods and comprehensive mineralogical databases to investigate chance versus necessity in mineral diversity-distribution relationships. Hundreds of mineral species, including most common rock-forming minerals, distinguish an "Earth-like" planet from other terrestrial bodies. However, most of Earth's ~5000 mineral species are rare, known from only a few localities. We demonstrate that, in spite of deterministic physical, chemical, and biological factors that control most of our planet's mineral diversity, Earth's mineralogy is unique in the cosmos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-157
Number of pages4
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Sep 5 2015


  • Chance versus necessity
  • Earth-like planets
  • Mineral ecology
  • Mineral evolution
  • Philosophy of mineralogy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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