Courtesty of E. Larson
Courtesy of E. Larson

As I sit looking out my plastic shrink-wrapped windows on this still (despite the wind chill advisory) -9 degree F morning here in southern New Hampshire, I ponder ice. Last week before the flurries came, I enjoyed a few afternoons of perfect ice skating on local ponds and lakes. A visit from a geologist friend of mine informed me of an interesting fact about ice that I had never considered–that ice could be technically considered a mineral. While most of us who think about minerals consider them simply to be components of rock, minerals are actually defined as:

  1. Naturally occurring
  2. Inorganic (it can have Carbon in it, just has to be able to be formed by inorganic processes)
  3. Solid
  4. Having a specific internal arrangement of atoms (crystal structure)
  5. Having a definite chemical composition that is variable only within prescribed limits

Sounds a lot like ice, doesn’t it? (Also, while said geologist Dr. Erik Bond Larson–solid name, right?–assured me that I need not credit him because I could find this information in any geology textbook, the above list came directly from his fingertips).

So ice is a mineral. Now you know.

Courtesy of E. Larson
Courtesy of E. Larson

Update from Sunday’s post, Natural History Mysteries: Icy Sunbursts and Bubble Rings: Only one person made a guess about the formation of these bizarre icy formations, suggesting the possibility of ice aliens. I quite agree that ice aliens are a definite possibility. Other possibilities I hypothesize are: underwater springs or uneven freezing around objects such as logs and rocks. The bubble rings are the biggest mystery to me. If anyone has any explanations or guesses, let me know!