A team of researchers in Canada have discovered two new minerals in a slice of a 15-tonne meteorite that landed near the town of El Ali, in the Hiraan region of Somalia in east Africa. A potential third mineral is also being looked at.
The meteorite is the ninth largest celestial rock recorded at over 2 metres wide. It was unearthed in Somalia in 2020 and named the El Ali meteorite. The minerals have officially been named elaliite after the meteorite’s location and elkinstantonite after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Vice President, Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative and Principal Investigator of the NASA Psyche mission.
A 70-gram slice of the iron-based meteorite was sent to the meteorite collection of University of Alberta, Canada, for classification. After carrying out some tests, the researchers found the unknown minerals. The researchers will now examine material science applications of these minerals.
A professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the university and the curator of the collection, Dr Chris Herd said similar minerals had been synthetically created in a lab in the 1980s but were never recorded to be present in nature. The new minerals could help researchers understand the work of “nature’s laboratory” and its real-world uses, he added.