New unique mineral discovered in Western Australia

A new mineral has been discovered in Western Australia and according to University of Adelaide mineralogists it’s a completely unique mineral and nothing like the worlds know 4000 mineral species.

Published in Mineralogical Magazine, Visiting Research Fellow in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dr Peter Elliott has described ‘Putnisite’, found in a surface outcrop at Lake Cowan, north of Norseman in Western Australia. “What defines a mineral is its chemistry and crystallography,” says Dr Elliott, who is also a Research Associate with the South Australian Museum.

Unique Material - Putnisite
Unique Material – Putnisite

“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 you need to know about the mineral. “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.

Putnisite occurs as tiny cube-like crystals about 0.5mm in diameter and is as dark pink spots on dark green and white rock. It combines the elements strontium, calcium, chromium, sulphur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen – a very unusual combination and has yet to be determined if the new mineral will have any practical uses or properties.

Dr Elliott, a researcher from the Museum of Adelaide helped identify the mineral after first being found by a mining company and sent to the CSIRO before being sent to Dr Elliott. Dr Elliott has researched 12 new Australian minerals in the past seven years and seven of those he found himself. Putnisite has been named for Australian mineralogists Andrew and Christine Putnis.

Stay Curious – C.Costigan


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