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Current Affairs

New mineral discovered in lunar meteorite

Date: 07 November 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

A team of researchers from Europe have discovered a high-pressure mineral in the lunar meteorite Oued Awlitis 001. The mineral has been named Downwilhelmsite [CaAl4Si2O11]. 

 

Background

The new mineral is the first high-pressure mineral found in meteorites with application for subducted terrestrial sediments.

 

Details

  • Donwilhelmsite was discovered within shock melt zones of the lunar meteorite Oued Awlitis 001. which was found in the year 2014 in the Western Sahara. It is similar to rocks that comprise the Earth's continents, in terms of composition.

  • The eroded sediments are constantly dragged deeper into Earth mantle where the pressure and temperature work on them to turn them into denser mineral phases. The mineral Donwilhelmsite was formed in 460 to 700 kms depth.

  • Oued Awlitis 001 is classified as an anorthositic lunar impact melt rock. Scientists think that this meteorite was ejected from the Moon about 300,000 years ago.

  • The newly-discovered mineral, named donwilhelmsite, is a high-pressure silicate with a formula of CaAl4Si2O11.

  • Its name honours USGS geologist Don E. Wilhelms for his seminal and groundbreaking work on the geological history of the Moon.

  • In the Earth’s mantle, donwilhelmsite forms during deep recycling of aluminous crustal materials, which are also rich in volatiles and other elements incompatible in mantle minerals.

  • In the terrestrial rock cycle, donwilhelmsite is an important agent for transporting crustal sediments through the transition zone and uppermost lower mantle.