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Geological Terms Beginning With "Z"



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Zeolite

Zeolite

A group of hydrous aluminosilicates that are similar to the feldspars. They easily lose and regain their water of hydration and they fuse and swell when heated. Zeolites are frequently used as catalysts, water softeners, and sorbents. Many zeolites are natural minerals but synthetic zeolites are widely produced to control properties, control costs and establish a reliable supply. The image shows the shape of a zeolite crystal. The openings in the crystal increase its surface area for catalyst functions and increase its ability to serve as a sorbent and filter.

Zinc Blende

Zinc Blende

An older term used instead of "sphalerite", a zinc sulfide (Zn,Fe)S mineral. It is the primary ore of zinc. Sphalerite is often rich in cadmium - so much that sphalerite mining is the primary source of cadmium. Sphalerite is usually found in rocks altered by hydrothermal and contact metamorphism and is commonly associated with galena and dolomite.

Zirconium

Zircon

Zircon is a zirconium silicate mineral (ZrSiO4) that is found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It often contains unstable elements such as hafnium, uranium and thorium. The presence of uranium and thorium sometimes makes crystals of zircon useful for determining the age of the rocks in which they crystallized, such as granite. Zircon is harder, more resistant to weathering and has a higher specific gravity than most other minerals. This enables it to be concentrated in placer deposits where it is sometimes recovered for use as a gemstone. Colorless zircon was once a common substitute for diamond.

Zoned Crystal

Zoned Crystal

A crystal that grew while temperatures were changing or while the composition of the parent solution was changing. Crystals of these minerals can have a range of compositions, with a certain chemistry in the center reflecting the early growth conditions and the outer chemistry reflecting the later growth conditions. Minerals such as olivine or plagioclase which have a solid solution series frequently form such crystals.

Zone of Aeration

Zone of Aeration

A zone between the land surface and the water table where pore spaces are filled mainly with air. Water that exists in the pore space in this zone is referred to as "soil moisture".

Zone of Saturation

Zone of Saturation

The zone beneath the water table where all pore spaces are completely filled with water. Water that exists within this zone is known as "ground water".

Zone of Weathering

Zone of Weathering

A subsurface area, above the water table, where mineral and organic materials are subject to weathering.

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