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According to the recommended nomenclature for zeolite minerals (Coombs et al. 1998), there are more than eighty distinct zeolite species. Table 1⇓ (see Appendix below) is a listing of the zeolite minerals discussed in this chapter. Although zeolites are not as geologically abundant or widespread as many other silicate mineral groups, there is perhaps more interest in the crystal structures of zeolites than in any other mineral group, as evidenced by the number of reported crystal structure refinements (Table 2⇓).
Oxygen and silicon are the two most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust, followed by Al, Fe, Ca, Na, Mg, K. Along with H, Ba, and Sr, these are also the major elements found in most zeolite minerals. In fact, many similarities can be drawn between the feldspars, the most abundant mineral group in the Earth’s crust, and zeolites. The two most important principles in understanding zeolites (or any mineral group) are that charge balance must be maintained (i.e. the sum of the formal valence charges of the ions in the chemical formula must …