TWO minerals never before observed on Earth have been exposed in a meteorite.
Dubbed El Alie, the 3,000-pound space rock was found in Somalia in 2020 and is the ninth-largest meteorite ever discovered.
Scientists discovered the two new minerals in a single 2.5-ounce slab of rock extracted from the meteorite.
The two minerals were named elaliite after the meteor and elkinstantonite after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, executive director of the Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative.
The researchers identified El Ali as an iron-IAB complex meteorite — or a type of meteoric iron patched space rock with silicate patches.
And while looking at the meteorite sample, the scientists noticed the strange-looking minerals.
“During the classification — describing this new rock to science — I found some inclusions, some potentially different, interesting minerals inside the meteorite,” says Chris Herd, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta , said Global News.
“What we have now discovered is that there are at least two new minerals in this meteorite from Somalia that have never been discovered before.”
“Most people in my line of work will go through their careers and not even find a new mineral. Here… we encountered two,” Herd added.
Researchers discovered the minerals by looking at the chemistry of the rock and the ratio of the elements it contained.
They then compared the minerals to versions previously synthesized in a lab.
“Whenever you find a new mineral, it means the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, were different than what was previously found,” Herd said in a separate report expression.
The two minerals have been submitted to the University of Arizona for official classification, and a third new mineral may be under consideration.
If researchers get more samples from the meteorite, there’s a chance more minerals will be found, Herd said.
For the time being, the researchers want to use the meteorite to better understand the formation of asteroids.
“That’s my expertise – how you tease out the geological processes and geological history of the asteroid that this rock was once a part of,” Herd said.
“I never thought that just because I was working on a meteorite, I would be involved in describing brand new minerals.”
Elkins-Tanton is also serving as the lead investigator on Nasa’s upcoming Psyche mission, which will study space rocks in the asteroid belt.
https://www.thesun.ie/tech/news-tech/9819134/strange-meteorite-earth-two-substances/ Strange meteorite that crashed to earth contains two never-before-seen minerals