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Any member of a family of minerals that contains the carbonate ion, CO2, as the basic structural unit. The carbonates are among the most widely distributed minerals in the earth's crust; the most common are calcite, dolomite, and aragonite. Dolomite replaces calcite in limestones; when this replacement is extensive, the rock is called dolomite. Other relatively common carbonate minerals are siderite, rhodochrosite, strontianite (strontium-rich); smithsonite (zinc-rich); witherite (barium-rich); and cerussite (lead-rich).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on carbonate mineral, visit Britannica.com.
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