Feldspar, any of a group of aluminosilicate minerals that contain calcium, sodium, or potassium. Feldspars make up more than half of Earth’s crust, and professional literature about them constitutes a large percentage of the literature of mineralogy.
Of the more than 3,000 known mineral species, less than 0.1 percent make up the bulk of Earth’s crust and mantle. These and an additional score of minerals serve as the basis for naming most of the rocks exposed on Earth’s surface.
Each of the common rock-forming minerals can be identified on the basis of its chemical composition and its crystal structure (i.e., the arrangement of its constituent atoms and ions). The nonopaque minerals can also be identified by their optical properties. Fairly expensive equipment and sophisticated procedures, however, are required for such determinations. Therefore, it is fortunate that macroscopic examination, along with one or more tests, are sufficient to identify these minerals as they occur in most rocks. The following descriptions include basic chemical and structural data and the properties used in macroscopically based identifications. Optical data, which are not included in these descriptions, are available in mineralogy books.