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Scientists Discover Mysterious Mineral Tucked inside Diamond in South Africa

They have named it ‘Goldschmidtite’, which is a strange combination of elements that could offer a glimpse into the inner workings of Earth’s mantle.

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Updated:September 25, 2019, 8:26 AM IST
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Scientists Discover Mysterious Mineral Tucked inside Diamond in South Africa
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It is well-known that Earth is hiding within itself a number of minerals and metals that have been out of human knowledge for years. However, a Ph.D. student from the University of Alberta has helped scientists to find a rare and mysterious mineral, tucked away inside a diamond at a volcanic site in South Africa.

Nicole Meyer and a team of researchers were the first to identify the mineral. They have named it ‘Goldschmidtite’, which is a strange combination of elements that could offer a glimpse into the inner workings of Earth’s mantle.

In an article about the new mineral, published in Geo Science World, the team of researchers described the chemical and physical properties of the new mineral named ‘Goldschmidtite’.

https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/msa/ammin/article-abstract/104/9/1345/573334/goldschmidtite-k-ree-sr-nb-cr-o3-a-new-perovskite?redirectedFrom=fulltext

“Goldschmidtite has high concentrations of niobium, potassium, and the rare earth elements lanthanum and cerium, whereas the rest of the mantle is dominated by other elements, such as magnesium and iron,” wrote Nicole, a graduate student in the Diamond Exploration Research and Training School, part of NSERC’s Collaborative Research and Training Experience.

She added, “For potassium and niobium to constitute a major proportion of this mineral, it must have formed under exceptional processes that concentrated these unusual elements.”

Goldschmidtite is a perovskite-group mineral, with the formula (K,REE,Sr)(Nb,Cr)O3. The research article also mentioned that “a single grain of goldschmidtite with a maximum dimension of ∼100 μm was found as an inclusion in a diamond from the Koffiefontein pipe in South Africa.”

The name of the mineral ‘Goldschmidtite’ was given in honor of the eminent geochemist Victor Moritz Goldschmidt (1888–1947), who formalized perovskite crystal chemistry and identified KNbO3 as a perovskite-structured compound.

Graham Pearson, co-supervisor of the team, said, “Goldschmidtite is highly unusual for an inclusion captured by diamond and gives us a snap-shot of fluid-processes that affect the deep roots of continents during diamond formation.”

While there will be more research on the newly-found mineral, it has open new gates about Earth’s hidden gems.

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