Minerals, Metals, and Other Materials


Which metallic element is the most abundant?

Aluminum is the most abundant metallic element on the surface of Earth and the moon; it comprises more than eight percent of Earth’s crust. It is never free in nature, combining with oxygen, sand, iron, titanium, and other substances; its ores are mainly bauxites (aluminum hydroxide). Nearly all rocks, particularly igneous rocks, contain aluminum as aluminosilicate minerals. Napoleon III (1808–1883) recognized that the physical characteristic of its lightness could revolutionize the arms industry, so he granted a large subsidy to French chemist Sainte-Claire Deville (1818–1881) to develop a method to make its commercial use feasible. In 1854, Deville obtained the first pure aluminum metal through the process of reduction of aluminum chloride. In 1886, American Charles Martin Hall (1863–1914) and Frenchman Paul Heroult (1863–1914) independently discovered an electrolytic process to produce aluminum from bauxite.


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