Anyone who spends time in a geology lab, natural science museum, or rock and mineral shop can see that nature provides us with an incredible variety of minerals. Countless introductory geology students get “turned on” to the science of geology by studying minerals. Despite the development of modern instruments that enable rapid and detailed mineral, chemical, and atomic structural analysis, the study of minerals by hand sample remains one of the most popular and economical pursuits of many professional geologists, students, and amateur mineral enthusiasts.
Because individuals with varying backgrounds in physical science collect and study minerals, a considerable need exists for a reference text that can be effectively used by both professionals and amateurs. Edward Salisbury Dana published the first such text, Minerals and How to Study Them, over a century ago. The third and last edition of this book was published in 1948. In the 50 years since, considerable changes have occurred in the understanding of mineral chemistry, crystallography, and microscopy. As a result, Dana's third edition is somewhat out of date, and its presentation of material is somewhat antiquated for modern-day readers.