Two Earth-exclusive minerals were discovered in the Somalian meteorite.


Two Earth-exclusive minerals were discovered in the Somalian meteorite. At least two minerals that are not present on Earth are present in a meteorite that landed in Somalia in 2020. According to a press release, scientists at the University of Alberta identified the two minerals.

Every day, tonnes of space debris enters the atmosphere of the Earth and burn up instantly. Few of these space rocks actually make it through the atmosphere and land on the ground; as a result, they are referred to as meteorites.

Even though they are uncommon, large meteorites do occasionally fall, like the one that struck close to the Somalian town of El Ali a few years ago. Although the celestial rock weighs a whopping 16.5 tonnes (15 tonnes), it is only the ninth-largest meteorite ever discovered.

A meteorite contains two novel minerals.

The University of Alberta received a small piece of the meteorite that weighed about 2.5 ounces (70 grams) for classification, and the scientists there discovered two minerals that are not present on Earth. According to Chris Herd, a professor in the department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and curator of the university’s meteorite collection, “Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, were different than what has been found before.”

Read more: A Massive Asteroid Will Pass Earth Next Week.

The herd has identified the meteorite as an Iron IAB complex, which is made up of meteoritic iron and silicate inclusions, in collaboration with scientists at UCLA and the California Institute of Technology.

The University of Alberta’s Electron Microprobe Laboratory also contributed to Herd’s research because there, a preliminary examination identified the two minerals. To confirm the existence of a new mineral, research of this kind typically requires a lot of work. However, in this instance, the two identified minerals had already been synthesized, allowing the researchers to quickly compare their compositions to validate their discovery.

It’s interesting to note that a third new mineral is also being considered, but its presence can only be verified after additional analysis is finished.

Names of minerals

Elaliite and elkinstantonite are the names of the two minerals that have so far been confirmed. El Ali, the closest town to where the meteorite was discovered, is where the first name originates. The second, however, is a tribute to Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a researcher at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.

Herd stated in the press release that “Lindy has done a lot of work on how the cores of planets form, how these iron-nickel cores form, and the closest analog we have are iron meteorites.” Therefore, it made sense to honor her scientific contributions by naming a mineral after her.

NASA’s upcoming Psyche mission, which will send a probe to the mineral asteroid Psyche, is being led by Elkins-Tanton.

But given that the El Ali meteorite is rumored to have been transported to China in search of a buyer, this might also be the last we hear about it. If sold, it is currently unknown if the purchaser will consent to the collection of additional samples for scientific analysis.