Newly-discovered mineral is 'completely unique and unrelated to anything'

 

A researcher has discovered a mineral from Western Australia that is unique and doesn't appear to be related to any other mineral family.

A junior miner working a surface outcrop at Lake Cowan region in Western Australia found the unknown mineral and gave it to Dr Peter Elliott, a researcher from the University of Adelaide for analysis. The new mineral—named putnisite after Australian mineralogists Andrew and Christine Putnis—is special.

"Most minerals belong to a family or small group of related minerals, or if they aren't related to other minerals they often are to a synthetic compound—but putnisite is completely unique and unrelated to anything," said Elliott in an interview last week.

Putnisite is translucent and brittle.The mineral has no known practical uses. Some of the elements in putnisite are carbon, calcium, chromium and strontium. It's chemical formula is the following:

SrCa4Cr3+8(CO3)8SO4(OH)16·23H2O

The new mineral's name, putnisite, is still not official. It has to be approved by the International Mineralogical Association.

Elliott, who is a is a research fellow at the University of Adelaide's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, published his findings in Mineralogical Magazine.


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