An iron meteorite that was found in 2016 in Buryatia, southern Russia, provided the keys for the discovery of a new mineral called ‘uakitite,’ which is associated with sulfides, schreibersite and magnetite.
The discovery was made by researchers from the Ural Federal University, Novosibirsk State University and the Geological Institute at the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science.
Given that the fragments found in the meteorite were extremely small, the scientists decided to obtain data on its crystal structure by using electron diffraction instead of a traditional X-ray analysis.
They found that temperatures of over 1000 degrees centigrade in the meteorite formed troilite-daubreelite associations, one of whose early minerals is uakitite. “It forms isometric (cubic) crystals (in daubreelite) or rounded grains (in schreibersite). The size of uakitite grains is usually less than 5 μm,” reads an abstract presented by the researchers at the 81st Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society.
Structurally, the new mineral is related to carlsbergite CrN and osbornite TiN.
The physical properties of uakitite were difficult to assess due to the tiny sizes of the grains, however, the researchers state that they know it has a yellow and transparent phase with metallic lustre, Mohs hardness is 9-10, it has a light gray colour with a pinky tint in reflected light and its density is calculated 6.128 g/cm3.