A team of researchers has discovered at least two new minerals in a 15-tonne meteorite in Somalia — the ninth largest meteorite ever discovered.
According to Forbes, the two newly-discovered minerals have been named ‘Elaliite’ and ‘Elkinstantonite’.
“Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions and the chemistry of the rock are different than what’s been found before,” Chris Herd, professor at the Canada-based University of Alberta’s Meteorite Collection, was quoted as saying.
“That’s what makes this exciting. In this particular meteorite, you have two officially described minerals that are new to science,” he added.
The two minerals discovered came from a single 70 gm slice that was sent to the university for classification, and a potential third mineral is already being considered.
While Herd was analysing the meteorite to classify it, he noticed something that caught his interest, according to the report.
He enlisted the help of Andrew Locock, director of the University of Alberta’s Electron Microprobe Laboratory, who has worked on other new mineral descriptions.
“The very first day, he did some analysis. You’ve got at least two new minerals in there,” Herd said.
Researchers are continuing to examine the minerals to determine what they can tell about the conditions in the meteorite when it formed, said the report.
“That’s my expertise — how you tease out the geologic processes and the geologic history of the asteroid this rock was once part of. I never thought I’d be involved in describing brand new minerals just by virtue of working on a meteorite,” said Herd.