Environment

Miners Discover a New Mineral

Putnisite is as aesthetically pleasing as it is geologically novel.

By Sarah KollmorgenNov 26, 2014 12:00 AM
putnisite.jpg
Putnisite combines the elements strontium, calcium, chromium, sulfur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen in a novel way: SrCa4Cr8<sup>3</sup>+(CO3)8SO4(OH)16 • 25H2O. | P. Elliott, et al.

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When a Western Australian mining company stumbled across some strange-looking purple-pinkish rocks in 2006, it handed them over to geologist Peter Elliott of the South Australian Museum.

Eight years of analysis later, Elliott announced in April that it was a previously unknown mineral, which he dubbed putnisite, after mineralogists Christine and Andrew Putnis.

Putnisite has both style and substance: The shimmering mineral has an otherworldly look, and while most new minerals are chemically or structurally related to other known minerals or synthetic compounds, putnisite is unique on both fronts.

[This article originally appeared in print as "A Rock Like No Other."]

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