Two new minerals never seen on Earth have been identified by scientists in a meteorite that crashed in Africa
According to Chris Herd, curator of the University of Alberta meteorite collection found out as he was examining the sample of the space rocks that there were unidentified parts which classified as new minerals.
Herd named the first mineral as elaliite, deriving from the word “El Ali” since it was discovered near the town of El Ali in central Somalia while the second mineral is called elkinstantonite, named after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the vice president of Arizona State University’s Interplanetary Initiative.
He said, “Lindy has done a lot of work on how the cores of planets form, how these iron nickel cores form, and the closest analogue we have are iron meteorites. It made sense to name a mineral after her and recognize her contributions to science.”
The two new minerals are phosphates of iron, meaning it is a salt of a phosphoric acid and it weighs about 15.2 metric tons.
“The two new phosphates tell us about oxidation processes that occurred in the meteorite material. It remains to be seen if the oxidation occurred in space or on Earth, after the fall, but as far as I know, many of these meteorite phosphates formed in space. In either case, water is probably the reactant that caused the oxidation”, Oliver Tschauner said, a mineralogist and professor of research in the department of geoscience at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
These new discoveries widen the knowledge of scientists about the natural resources that can be seen and formed in the solar system, says Alan Rubin, a meteorite researcher.
“El Ali” was the name of the meteorite and it has been sent to China to look for buyers, while researchers are still examining the minerals and the potential third one, to understand the conditions when these space rocks were formed. Researchers believe that this new discovery would be of great help in the future.
“Whenever there’s a new material that’s known, material scientists are interested too because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society,” Herd added.