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Earth’s Lost Mineral Found in Meteorite

135 years ago a meteor struck land in Australia. Hidden inside the chondritic meteorite, lies a previously undiscovered form of garnet which belongs to the majorite group. The microscopic particles of this dense mineral make up a large portion of the Earth’s crust and upper mantle. In 1985, this mineral was artificially created and given the nickname of tetragonal garnet.

The ones to discover the mineral naturally were a group of mineralogists at the Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research in Japan led by Naotaka Tomioka. The scientists had the honor of naming the mineral which they discovered in a slice of the 19th century meteorite. The new mineral formed in space when two asteroids collided at a speed of 2 kilometers per second.

Each component of this new mineral contains 32 magnesium atoms, 32 silicon atoms and 96 oxygen atoms which is identical to the previously artificially created tetragonal garnet. The researchers identified the undiscovered mineral by bouncing electrons off of the mineral’s crystal structure. It’s unique structure and shape let the mineralogists identify it. Other minerals discovered in the same meteorite include akimotoite and bridgmanite.