At least two new minerals never before seen on Earth have been identified in the 14-ton Al-Ali meteorite found in 2020 in Somalia. Previously unknown ores have been discovered in a single 70-gram piece of space rock that was sent to Canada’s University of Alberta for further study.
Scientists analyzed the composition of the extraterrestrial sample and came to some surprising conclusions. It was found that the meteorite contained minerals previously unheard of on Earth, which were called elaliite and elkinstantonite. No other details about the discovery were revealed.
It is one of the largest meteorites. Its composition surprised scientists
According to the university’s website, the meteorite named El Ali is classified as a common iron meteorite of type IAB – one of 350 specimens belonging to this class, but ninth in size.
The meteorite was named after the city near which it was found. The first mineral discovered is named similarly. The second is named in honor of Linda Elkins-Tanton, managing director of the ASU Interplanetary Initiative and principal investigator of NASA’s upcoming Psyche mission.
Chris Hurd, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and curator of the University of Alberta’s meteorite collection, said in a statement reported by The Daily Online: “When you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, chemical composition of the rock were different from what was found previously.
“I never thought I would be involved in characterizing completely new minerals because of my work on the meteorite,” he added.
Hurd, the study’s lead author, has a hunch that more new minerals could be discovered if scientists took more samples from the meteorite. Ores similar to elaliite and elkinstantonite were created synthetically in the lab in the 1980s, but have not been recorded in nature, according to The Guardian.
The scientists behind the discovery are now analyzing another third, potentially new mineral found in the meteorite. It all depends on whether new samples of space rocks will be made available for further study. Al-Ali may have been transported from Somalia to China in search of a buyer.
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