In the field of mineralogy, fracture is the shape and texture of the surface formed when a mineral is fractured. Minerals often have a highly distinctive fracture, making it a principal feature used in their identification.
Fracture differs from cleavage in that the latter involves clean splitting along the cleavage planes of the mineral's crystal structure, as opposed to more general breakage. All minerals exhibit fracture, but when very strong cleavage is present, it can be difficult to see.
Conchoidal fracture is a curved breakage that resembles the concentric ripples of a mussel shell. It often occurs in amorphous or fine-grained minerals such as flint, opal or obsidian, but may also occur in crystalline minerals such as quartz. Subconchoidal fracture is similar to conchoidal fracture, but with less significant curvature. (Note that obsidian is an igneous rock, not a mineral, but it does illustrate conchoidal fracture well.)
- Rudolf Duda and Lubos Rejl: Minerals of the World (Arch Cape Press, 1990)