BBC News Science and Environment column reported that scientists have catalogued the largest list ever of rare minerals. The list, published in American Mineralogist, was authored by Dr Robert Hazen, from the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC, and Prof Jesse Ausubel of The Rockefeller University, in New York, and includes more than 5,000 mineral species.
“Scientists have so far tracked down 5,000 mineral species and it turns out that fewer than a 100 constitute almost all of Earth’s crust. The rest of them are rare, but the rarest of the rare – that’s about 2,500 minerals – are only found at five places on Earth or fewer,” Dr Hazen told BBC News.
“And you ask: why study them; they seem so insignificant? But they are the key to the diversity of the Earth’s near-surface environments.
“It’s the rare minerals that tell us so much about how Earth differs from the Moon, from Mars, from Mercury, where the same common minerals exist, but it’s the rare minerals that make Earth special.”
The list includes rare examples including cobaltominite, abelsonite, fingerite, edoylerite, and the extremely rare “vampire-like minerals” that fall apart immediate when wet or the sun shines on them: edoylerite, metasideronatrite, and sideronatrite.
For more information:
- Deep Carbon Observatory Project
- Earth’s rarest minerals could hint at life on other planets – New Scientist
- For a special Valentine? Beyond diamonds and gems: The world’s rarest minerals – Pys
- Beyond Diamonds and Gems: The World’s Rarest Minerals! Keck Researchers categorize rarities in the mineral kingdom! – DTDI Carnegie Science
- On the Nature and Significance of Rarity in Mineralogy (PDF Report)