Two scientists have recently released a catalogue of more than 5,000 known minerals on Earth, which also comprises 2,550 of the minerals that are considered the rarest. There are very limited quantities of these minerals in our planet and some of them can offer important clues about its formation. The list was released just in time for Valentine’s Day, so lovers can find a bit of inspiration for their presents.
The catalogue was published in the journal of American Mineralogist and it is the first system that has ever categorized rare minerals. According to study co-author Dr Robert Hazen, from George Mason University, these minerals can provide important information about the Earth’s development and formation. “They are the key to the diversity of Earth’s near-surface environments,” he said.
Research team member Professor Jesse Ausubel from The Rockefeller University also added to his colleague’s statement that these rare minerals “can not only help geologists understand the history of Earth, but may provide keys to the origins of life”.
The rarest minerals of the Earth are found at five or fewer sites across the globe. According to the paper, some of them can extinguish for a period of time and will reappear with the right conditions, and some others form under very specific conditions like extreme cold or high droughts, but evaporate or dehydrate when exposed to a different condition.
Others are formed of rare elements that are almost never found in the same place at the same time, others dissolve in rain or decompose in the sun and some others can only be found in places that are extremely hard to get to, like the edges of volcanoes. This information would help scientists know what elements are or aren’t present at a specific depth.
Among the rarest minerals is the fingerite. This mineral can only be found near the top of the Izalco volcano in El Salvador, it is made of rare elements under restrictive conditions and it disappears with rain.The nevadaite has microscopic blue crystals and it is made of vanadium and copper. It resembles a fluff. It has only been found in two places: Eureka County, Nevada, and at a copper mine in Kyrgyzstan.
The nevadaite has microscopic blue crystals and it is made of vanadium and copper. As seen in the image, it resembles a fluff. It has only been found in two places: Eureka County, Nevada, and at a copper mine in Kyrgyzstan.
The pink cobaltomenite is only found in four places around the world: Argentina, Bolivia, Congo and Utah. According to a Los Angeles Times report, scientists say there is so little cobaltomenite on our planet that you could probably fit it all into a container the size of a shot glass.
The rare ichnusaite forms from molybdenum and radioactive thorium. This mineral has only been found once in Sardinia, Italy, in 2013 and the research team considers it the rarest of them all. This one could be one of the most valuable gifts of Valentine’s day.
The hazenite, which was named after Hazen and discovered by a student of his, has only been found in Mono Lake in the California desert, and only on certain days of the year.
According to the Los Angeles time article, when the lake has been dry for a long time, the phosphorous levels occasionally get so high that they start to poison the microbes that live on the lakebed. To deal with the excess phosphorous, these microscopic life forms excrete tiny little hazenite crystals. Hazen refers as it as “microbial poop”.”People tell me, ‘Hazenite happens.'”
Source: Los Angeles Times