February 3, 2023

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These minerals do not exist on Earth, where could they have been formed?

The El Ali meteorite is an iron meteorite weighing more than 15 tons that was identified in 2020 near this small city. According to the locals, it has been in its place 5-7 generations prior. However, the samples examined by the scientists reveal a secret.

Elaliite and Elkinstantonite

Al Ali in Somalia is the resting place of a meteorite classified as iron. It stands out among the other rocks in the area, which is why it is associated with stories belonging to local folklore. While studying a meteorite sample sent by prospectors to Nairobi and then to the University of Alberta in the USA, an unusual discovery was made. In just 70 grams of the sample, two minerals not found on Earth were detected, and a third unknown mineral is also suspected.

Every time you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geology and chemistry that was present in the rock was different from what was found before.
-Proof. Chris Hurd, University of Alberta

Sample scale, centimeter scale next to it

Meteorites hide extraterrestrial treasures

On the first day, after the initial analysis, the researchers discovered new minerals in the sample. It was an extraordinary find, because usually finding a new mineral requires more work from researchers. However, these two materials were previously created synthetically, so after testing them, it was enough for the scientists to match the pattern to the one already created in the laboratory. Geologists are now intrigued by the conditions that prevailed inside the meteorite in which such materials could form.

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Will the new metals find any use? This is possible, because materials scientists are eager to test new materials for their use in society (such as perovskites, which are found in both meteorites and terrestrial sediments). Scientists in Alberta would like to do more research, but it is not known if this is possible, because the 15-ton meteorite has now been moved to China in search of a potential buyer.

Source: sci.news, lpi.usra.edu