Minerals are naturally occurring inorganic solids of definite chemical composition with an ordered internal structure; rocks can be considered to be any solid mass of mineral or mineral-like material and may therefore often contain several kinds of minerals. The most common minerals are the silicates, with nonsilicates constituting less than 10% of the Earth's crust, the most common being carbonates, oxides, sulfides, and phosphates. Rocks and minerals represent a vast reservoir of elements, many of which are essential to life, and which must be released into forms that may be assimilated by the biota. These include essential metals as well as anionic nutrient species like sulfate and phosphate.
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