Two rare minerals were discovered in a 14-ton meteorite, which crashed in Somalia two year ago.
- These minerals were discovered in the ninth-largest meteorite on Earth
- The two minerals were discovered in a single two-ounce slice of the space rock
- They are called elaliite or elkinstantonite. However, no other details have been made public.
- Scientists are optimistic that they will uncover more minerals if they get more samples from meteorite.
Two years ago, a 14-ton meteorite discovered in Somalia contained at least two new minerals that were never before seen on Earth.
The two-ounce space rock slice contained the minerals. This piece was sent to University of Alberta.
The newly discovered minerals have been renamed elaliite, and elkinstantonite. No other information has been provided.
This meteorite is known as ‘El Ali’ and is classified as an “Iron complex IAB complex”. It is also one of more than 350 in this particular category. However, it is the ninth-largest meteorite ever discovered.
In a single 2-ounce meteorite slice, two new minerals were discovered that had never been seen before.
The meteorite’s name was given in honor of the place where it was discovered.
The second was named after LindyElkins-Tanton who is director of Arizona State University’s Interplanetary Initiative. She is also principal investigator for NASA’s upcoming Psyche mission.
Elkins-Tanton will send a probe into the asteroid to find evidence about how the planets in our solar system formed.
Chris Herd, a professor in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and curator of the University of Alberta’s Meteorite Collection, said in a statement: ‘Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what’s been found before.
“That’s why this meteorite is so exciting. There are two new minerals that have been officially described in it.
Herd is optimistic that new minerals may be discovered if scientists take more samples of the meteorite.
Semolina was hit by the 14-ton meteorite in 2020. It is the ninth largest meteorite ever discovered on Earth.
The meteorite fell outside the town, and was discovered first by camelherders who alerted experts.
The density of the space rock is twice that of regular Earth rocks and it is magnetic. Nothing like it has been seen on Earth.
Herd was studying the meteorite for classification when he noticed something.
He Andrew Locock (head of U of A’s Electron Microprobe Laboratory), was contacted. Heavily involved in the development of other mineral descriptions including Heamanite(Ce).
Herd states that Herd told him, “You have at least two new minerals in those rocks.” It was incredible.
“Most times it takes a lot of work than that just to tell if there is a new mineral.”
Because the two minerals were previously synthesized by French researchers in 1980s, Locock was able to quickly identify them.
Herd points out that “it doesn’t get to be called mineral until it’s found in nature.”
Scientists are optimistic that new minerals may be discovered if more meteorite samples are taken.
Researchers continue to analyze the minerals to discover what they can reveal about the meteorite’s formation conditions.
‘That’s my expertise — how you tease out the geologic processes and the geologic history of the asteroid this rock was once part of,’ said Herd.
“I didn’t think I would be involved in the description of brand new minerals by virtue of my work on a meteorite.
Although the fate of the meteorite is uncertain, Herd stated that researchers have received information that the meteorite appears to have been transported to China to search for a buyer.
It remains to see if additional samples are made available for scientific purposes.