Named putnisite, it was found on a volcanic rock
Scientists have discovered a new mineral in Western Australia that is unique in structure and composition among the world’s 4,000 known mineral species.
The mineral ‘Putnisite’, described by a visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide in Mineralogical Magazine, was found in a surface outcrop at Lake Cowan, north of Norseman in Western Australia.
The new mineral occurs as tiny crystals, no more than 0.5 mm in diameter and is found on a volcanic rock. It appears as dark pink spots on dark green and white rock which, under the microscope, appears as square, cube-like crystals.
It combines the elements strontium, calcium, chromium, sulphur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen — a very unusual combination. It has yet to be determined if the new mineral will have any practical use, researchers said.
“What defines a mineral is its chemistry and crystallography,” said Dr Peter Elliott, who is also a Research Associate with the South Australian Museum.
“By x-raying a single crystal of mineral you are able to determine its crystal structure and this, in conjunction with chemical analysis, tells you everything that you need to know about the mineral.”