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.”

(This article was published on April 22, 2014)
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