2 new minerals found in El Ali meteorite

(ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers have discovered at least two new minerals in a 15-ton meteorite found in Somalia that have never been found on Earth before.

“Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemical composition of the rock, was different from what was found before,” says Chris Hurd, professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and curator of the meteorite collection at the University of Alberta.

“That’s what makes it exciting: in this particular meteorite, you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.”

The two minerals found were taken from the same 70 gram section, and there appears to be a potential third mineral under consideration. If the researchers got more samples from the massive meteorite, there’s a chance other new minerals could be found, Hurd notes.

Two recently discovered minerals have been named elaliite and elkinstantonite. The first one takes its name from the meteorite itself, which was named El Ali because it was found near the city of El Ali in Somalia.

Hurd named the second mineral after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, vice president of ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative, professor at the University of Arizona’s School of Earth and Space Science and principal investigator for NASA‘s upcoming Psyche mission.

“Lindy has done a lot of research on how planetary cores form, how these nickel-iron cores form, and the closest we have, iron meteorites. So it made sense to name a mineral after her and recognize her contribution to science,” Hurd explains.

While the meteorite’s future remains uncertain, Hurd says researchers have received word that it appears to have been transported to China in search of a potential buyer. It remains to be seen if additional samples will be made available for scientific purposes.

Hurd described the findings at a symposium on space exploration on November 21st.


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