Scientists have discovered that the value of the rarest minerals on Earth stands in their uniqueness in the whole Milky Way. Our planet is the only one to feature minerals like abelsonite, edoylerite and cobaltominite.
According to experts, these rare features of Earth can appear after a volcanic eruption and disappear with the first rainfall, appear in deep caves where they are sheltered from sunshine or be created by the secretion of microbes under duress. An extensive study on the matter will be published in the American Mineralogist journal.
Dr. Robert Hazen, co-author of the study from the Washington Carnegie Institution, has stated that these rare minerals are the ones that make our planet different from Mercury, Mars or the Moon. In order to reach this conclusion, scientists have classified about 2,500 rare minerals depending on their location and abundance. This list might help us understand their potential in science and industry.
Earth contains about one hundred abundant minerals, including quartz, cobalt, mica and feldspar. However, researchers have discovered a range of five thousand minerals laying on the surface of our planet. The newest study has reclassified half of those by their characteristics, be they the formation, disappearance or composition.
It appears there is one mineral that forms under extreme conditions in places that are difficult to reach, is composed of very rare elements and disappears quickly: fingerite. Fingerite is created in El Salvador from the gases of an active volcano named Izalco. Its formation takes place only when copper and vanadium clash. However, the first rainfall will dissolve it.
The researchers have also reached the conclusion that finding new minerals is not the primary goal of mineralogy, at least not anymore. According to Hazen, most mineralogists no longer pursue discovering new minerals, but understanding the formation of these rocks. But what prompted them to change their minds?
It seems that scientists have discovered the important role of minerals in sustaining ecosystems, which is very important in the current issue of conserving our planet. This has determined them to perform further studies on the rarest minerals in the world, instead of trying to find new ones.
Mineralogy is also linked to biology, since some minerals appear as the result of biological phenomena. For instance, Hazenite was discovered by one of the students of Hazen, and it forms as a result of the secretion of microbes which are influenced by increased levels of phosphor determined by the drying of Mona Lake in California.
Apart from life and oxygen, it seems our planet is truly different in more aspects, as the value of the rarest minerals on Earth has recently proven.
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