Researchers say they found two new minerals never discovered before in a meteorite that landed in Somalia.
According to the University of Alberta, the minerals have been named elaliite and elkinstantonite. Elaliite was named after the town it was found near, El Ali, and elkinstantonite was named after Arizona State researcher Lindy Elkins-Tanton.
Researchers could quickly identify the minerals as they had been synthetically created. The meteorite was made from a type of iron thought to be formed by impact-induced melting.
“Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what’s been found before,” says Chris Herd, a professor in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences and curator of the University of Alberta’s Meteorite Collection. “That’s what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite, you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.”
The meteorite also was the ninth-largest ever discovered, weighing 15 tons.
Scientists are trying to learn more about the minerals and their formation.
“Whenever there’s a new material that’s known, material scientists are interested too because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society,” Herd said.
Researchers say the meteorite may contain additional undiscovered minerals.