Nov 29 2022

Researchers discover two new minerals on meteorite grounded in Somalia But China Snatched It way

Two minerals that have never been seen before on Earth have been discovered inside a massive meteorite in Somalia. They could hold important clues to how asteroids form.

The 2.5 ounce slice which contains the two brand new minerals.
The 2.5 ounce slice which contains the two brand new minerals

The two brand new minerals were found inside a single 2.5 ounce (70 gram) slice taken from the 16.5 ton (15 metric tons) El Ali meteorite, which crashed to Earth in 2020. Scientists named the minerals elaliite after the meteor and elkinstantonite after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the managing director of the Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative and principal investigator of NASA's upcoming Psyche mission, which will send a probe to investigate the mineral-rich Psyche asteroid for evidence of how our solar system's planets formed.

A team of researchers in Canada say they have discovered two new minerals – and potentially a third – after analysing a slice of a 15-tonne meteorite that landed in east Africa.

The meteorite, the ninth largest recorded at over 2 metres wide, was unearthed in Somalia in 2020, although local camel herders say it was well known to them for generations and named Nightfall in their songs and poems.

"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," Chris Herd, a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta, said in a statement. "That's what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite you have two officially described minerals that are new to science." 

Related: Miners just discovered the largest pink diamond in more than 300 Years

Sadly this will be the last we hear about the El Ali meteorite since the celestial rock has reportedly stolen and moved to China in search of a potential buyer. If sold, whether the buyer will allow further samples to be taken for scientific analysis remains unknown for now.