A research team from the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum has found a mineral in a meteorite that does not naturally form on Earth. In their article, published in the journal American Mineralogist the group describes their study of the mineral and suggests ways in which it could have originated.
As early as 1951, a black-red charred meteorite was found near the rural town of Wedderburn in Australia. It finally settled in the museums of the Victoria collections where it stayed. Over the years, museum staff have sliced tiny pieces of the meteorite (called the Wedderburn meteorite) and sent them to researchers around the world to better understand its composition and provenance. Last year, with this new effort, researchers scrutinized a sample sent to the CIT – this time with an electron microscope and its associated probe. They found evidence of a mineral that does not occur naturally on Earth – the team promptly called it Edscottit after Edward R. D. Scott, who had already found in the 1970s, a formula for the mineral. The curator of the Museums Victoria, Stuart Mills, reported that it is very rare to find a natural mineral that was first produced in a laboratory, and that scientists have discovered in the laboratory over half a million minerals, of which less than 6,000 are present have ever been found in nature. Incidentally, humans have been producing the mineral for many years – it is a by-product of melting.
They have also managed to learn more about his nature in scientific laboratories. So far it has been called Fe 5 C 2 – Minerals are traditionally only formally named if they occur naturally.
It is not known how the mineral was formed, of course, but it seems likely that the meteorite from which it came was once part of a much larger body – perhaps a planet or a moon. Some in the field have already suggested that the mineral was made in the core of a planet with a lot of heat. After that, it is likely that the planet has suffered a collision that broke it up into fragments, one of which found its way to Australia.
Researchers discover "spooky" signs of a mysterious new mineral
Chi Ma et al. Edscottit, Fe5C2, a new iron carbide mineral from the iron meteorite Wedderburn IAB with high Ni content, American Mineralogist (2019). DOI: 10.2138 / am-2019-7102
© 2019 Science X Network
Never Discovered Natural Mineral Found on Earth in the Meteorite (2019, September 11)
retrieved on September 11, 2019
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealings for the purposes of private study or research, no
Part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.