They discover a huge 15-ton meteorite that contains two minerals never seen before in nature

They discover a huge 15-ton meteorite that contains two minerals never seen before in nature

A space rock found in Somalia contains at least two minerals that had only been produced artificially, with a third still under investigation.

A space rock found in Somalia has been found to contain at least two minerals that had only been produced artificially , with a third still under investigation.

Since these discoveries were made with a single 70-gram (2.5-ounce) sample, we may very well have barely scratched the surface of what the rock has to offer.

“Every time you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what had been found before,”  Professor Chris Herd  of the University of Alberta said in a  statement.

Herd reported his findings at  the University of Alberta Space Exploration Symposium.

The presence of water and oxygen on Earth creates more ways in which the elements can come together to create minerals. As a result, the number we have found to have originated on Earth dwarfs those known to have formed in space. However, meteorites retain their ability to surprise us , and the El Ali meteorite certainly is.

Herd found two new minerals, which he named elaliite and elkinstonite after the meteorite and Professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton, respectively. In addition to being vice president of the Interplanetary Initiative at Arizona State University, Elkins-Tanton is principal investigator for the Psyche mission to explore the large, metal-rich asteroid.

“Lindy has done a lot of work on how the cores of planets form, how these iron and nickel cores form, and the closest analogue we have is iron meteorites,” Herd said. “So it made sense to name a mineral after her and recognize her contributions to science.”

The El Ali meteorite is an iron rock , IAB, of which more than 350 are known. Consequently, Herd was particularly surprised to see something unknown upon examining a portion.

Herd asked his colleague, Dr. Andrew Locock, to see what was going on. “The first day he did some analysis, he said, ‘You’ve got at least two new minerals in there,’” Herd said.

The fact that both elaliite and elkinstonite had been produced in laboratories meant that Locock was able to verify their presence relatively easily. Man-made substances don’t have the same naming process as those found in nature, so the Herd names were accepted a month ago.

Locock has experience identifying new minerals, but Herd said his expertise lies in deciphering an asteroid’s history based on its composition. Finding new minerals complicates that, and it will take a while to figure out how the main body of the meteorite formed and why we haven’t seen these minerals elsewhere.

Humans have been using meteorite material at least since Tutankhamun forged an iron/nickel/cobalt dagger into one. Herd hopes that the elaliite, elkinstonite or other minerals found in the El Ali meteorite will eventually prove practical value.

Although the  Meteoritical Bulletin database  lists the 15-tonne El Ali meteorite as having been found in 2020, that’s only when the world at large became aware of it. Locals told investigators that the stone was known as “Dusk” in the folklore of the Saar people, indicating that it had been observed landing.

It had been celebrated in song, poem, and dance for at least five generations and was used to sharpen knives. The meteorite is nearly 90 percent iron and nickel and is among the largest ever found.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.