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Silicate minerals are rock-forming minerals with predominantly silicate anions. They are the largest and most important class of rock-forming minerals and make up approximately 90 percent of the Earth's crust.In mineralogy, silica, or silicon dioxide SiO2, which corresponds to x=2 in the general formula, is usually considered a silicate mineral—even though its silicate "anion" has no negative charge and it has no cations. Silica is found in nature as the mineral quartz, and its polymorphs.
On Earth, a wide variety of silicate minerals occur in an even wider range of combinations as a result of the processes that have been forming and re-working the crust for billions of years. These processes include partial melting, crystallization, fractionation, metamorphism, weathering, and diagenesis.

Living things also contribute to this geologic cycle. For example, a type of plankton known as diatoms construct their exoskeletons ("tests") from silica extracted from seawater. The tests of dead diatoms are a major constituent of deep ocean sediment, and of diatomaceous earth.

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