A new mineral that has a unique makeup has been discovered in a remote part of Australia.
Named putnisite, the purple, translucent mineral is found on volcanic rock. The findings, published in Mineralogical Magazine, describe how the mineral’s rare composition of strontium, calcium, chromium, sulphur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, makes putnisite distinct and unrelated to any other kind of mineral.
— Uni of Adelaide (@UniofAdelaide) April 23, 2014
"What defines a mineral is its chemistry and crystallography," University of Adelaide's Peter Elliott, a researcher who found the mineral at Lake Cowan, in Western Australia, said in a statement. "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.”
Elliott explains most minerals belong to a family or group of related minerals. Putnisite, which contains tiny crystals that are no larger than 0.5mm in diameter, is "completely unique and unrelated to anything." Under a microscope, putnisite appears to have dark, pink spots on a dark green and white rock. Its crystals are square and cube-like.
The mineral was discovered by a mining company and was handed over to Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization for analysis. Its commercial use has yet to be determined.
“Nature seems to be far cleverer at dreaming up new chemicals than any researcher in a laboratory,” Elliott said.