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Found in a meteorite potentially one of the most abundant minerals inside the Earth

The discovery by a researcher of the Department of Earth Sciences

In a meteorite probably one of the most abundant minerals that could be present inside the Earth. Its name is hemleyite and it could be very common in the planet Earth, but researchers have found it in a meteorite. Hemleyite is a new mineral and it was discovered by Luca Bindi, professor at the Department of Earth Sciences, and colleagues of the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who presented the mineral in an article published in the latest issue of Nature Scientific Reports ("Discovery of the Fe-analogue of akimotoite in the shocked Suizhou L6 chondrite", DOI: 10.1038 / srep42674).

"It could be very abundant in our planet, but the scientific community had only hypothesized its existence, calling it confidentially 'iron and magnesium ilmenite', although it was not part of the list of known minerals - said Bindi, associate Professor of Mineralogy. This is somewhat unique - continues the scientist -, since it is potentially one of the most abundant minerals of the Earth, present in the transition zone between the upper and lower mantle, for us inaccessible, where it is formed at very high pressures and temperatures".

Luca Bindi and his colleagues Ming Chen and Xie Xiande have isolated and characterized the new mineral from a sample of the Suizhou meteorite which fell on April 15, 1986 in Dayanpo, China. They called it hemleyite, in honor of Russell Hemley, Balzan Prize for Physics in 2005 for his research on high pressure. "Previous studies have shown that this material can also form in certain meteorites due to temperatures and pressures similar to those of the Earth - says Bindi, but all samples retrieved from space till now showed a prevalence of magnesium over iron, and they were thus different from hemleyite".

Scientists have used single-crystal X-ray diffraction to study the structure and composition of the mineral phase. The results were submitted to the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association, which approved the work by officially declaring the birth of the new mineral.

22 February 2017