Researchers in Canada have discovered two new minerals in a meteorite that landed in east Africa’s Somalia in 2020. The 15-tonne El Ali meteorite is the ninth largest celestial rock found on Earth and is over 2 metres wide. A 70-gramme slice of this rock was sent to the University of Alberta’s meteorite collection. Here, the researchers carried out some tests following which they discovered new minerals on the surface of the rock. As per the statement of the university, the new minerals have been named elaliite, after the meteor, and elkinstantonite, after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, who is the managing director of the Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative. The researchers are hopeful they may have identified a third new mineral, which is currently under review.
Dr Chris Herd, professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, said, “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.” He highlighted that in the meteorite, researchers have two officially described minerals that are “new to science.”
Herd stated that the researchers will conduct further testing on the minerals to draw more insight from the conditions inside the meteorite when it formed. If more samples could be taken from the meteorite, there’s also the possibility of discovering other unique minerals, which could lead to new uses on our planet.
“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 said.
However, according to a Live Science report, future scientific insights from the meteorite look difficult. This is because the meteorite has now been moved to China, in search of a potential buyer. Its sale could limit researchers’ access to the space rock for investigation.
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