Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in Earth’s continental crust, after feldspar. Its crystal structure is a continuous framework of SiO4silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedral, giving an overall chemical formula of SiO2.
Quartz belongs to the trigonal crystal system. The ideal crystal shape is a six-sided prism terminating with six-sided pyramids at each end. In nature quartz crystals are often twinned, distorted, or so intergrown with adjacent crystals of quartz or other minerals as to only show part of this shape, or to lack obvious crystal faces altogether and appear massive. Well-formed crystals typically form in a ‘bed’ that has unconstrained growth into a void; usually the crystals are attached at the other end to a matrix and only one termination pyramid is present. However, doubly terminated crystals do occur where they develop freely without attachment, for instance within gypsum. A quartz geode is such a situation where the void is approximately spherical in shape, lined with a bed of crystals pointing inward.