November 27, 2014

12.05.11: New Cosmic Minerals Part II.

A view of Krotite. (Credit: university of Hawaii/American Mineralogist).

Faster than you can say carbonaceous chondrite, another new meteorite-bound mineral was recently announced from the University of Hawaii. Readers of this space will remember the recent discovery of Wassonite last month. Now, enter Krotite, a low-pressure refractory inclusion with a chemical composition of CaAl2O4. If that sounds familiar, that’s because high-pressure versions are well known; this 2.75mm x 4.5mm inclusion is suggestive of an early cooling environment in a proto-solar nebula. The discovery was announced in the action-packed May/June issue of the American Mineralogist, and the discovery was approved by the letterhead-consuming Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature, and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association. The name Krotite honors Dr. Alexander N. Krot, a meteoriticist who completed pioneering work in the field of chondrules and the role they played in early solar system formation. Seen above, the egg shaped inclusion surrounded by olivine deposits was first identified in the meteorite NWA 1934, a carbonaceous chondrite that was recovered from northwest Africa.

Why care about old space rocks? Well, the study of the composition of these ancient minerals gives us a peek at what the proto-solar nebula that eventually formed Earth, me, you, and Justin Bieber may have been like. These inclusions may also go a long way in determining the pedigree of other meteorite falls… but if we find just one that fluoresces green, can we call it Kryptonite?

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