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The source of the details of the 15-year study, each known mineral variety

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New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) A 15-year study led by the Carnegie Institution for Science details the origins and diversity of every known mineral in the world, a groundbreaking work that will help reconstruct the history of life on Earth, guide new mineral and ore deposits, Predicts the possible features of life and aids in the search for habitable planets and extraterrestrial life.

In a pair of papers published by the American Mineralogist and sponsored by NASA, Carnegie scientists Robert Hagen and Shauna Morrison provide an innovative method of dividing a new species based on the clustering (lumping) of mineral species together or when and how they originated.

Once the cause of mineral origin, the “mineral type” – a newly-known term – is more than 10,500 in total, about 75 percent more than the nearly 6,000 mineral species recognized by the International Minerals Organization (IMA). Only on the basis of crystal structure and chemical composition.

“This work fundamentally changes our perspective on the diversity of the planet’s minerals,” said Hagen, a staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and Earth and Laboratories in Washington, DC.

“For example, more than 80 percent of the earth was mediated by mineral water, which is fundamentally important for the mineral diversity on this planet. Increasingly, this explains one of the main causes of the moon and mercury and even Mars. Much less mineral species than Earth.”

“The work says something very profound about the role of our biology,” he added. “One-third of the world’s minerals could not be formed without biology – shells and bones and teeth, or germs, for example, or important indirect role in biology, such as creating an oxygen-rich atmosphere that could produce 2,000 minerals otherwise.”

“Every mineral specimen has a history. Each one tells a story. Each one is a time capsule that reveals the past of the earth that nothing else can do.”

According to the study, nature has created 40 percent of the world’s mineral species in multiple ways – for example, biologically and with the help of cells – and in several cases has used more than 15 different recipes to create the same crystals.

Of the 5,659 recognized mineral species surveyed by Hagen and colleagues, nine have evolved through 15 or more different physical, chemical and / or biological processes – everything from near instantaneous formation by lightning or meteor impact to changes caused by water-rocks. Interaction or conversion at high pressures and temperatures spans millions of years.

And, as if to show his sense of humor, nature has used 21 different ways in the last 4.5 billion years to create pyrite (aka Fulse Gold) – the champion of the mineral world from different sources.

Pyrite forms at high temperatures and at low temperatures, with and without water, with the help of germs and in harsh environments where life plays no role.

Formed from one part iron to two parts sulfide (FeS2), pyrite is formed and supplied through meteorites, volcanoes, hydrothermal deposits, pressure between rock layers, near-surface rock weather, germ-erosion deposits, several mining-related processes. Including coal mine fires, and many other ways.

To reach their conclusions, Hagen and Morrison created a database of each known process of formation of each known mineral.

Relying on large, open-access mineral databases, enlarged by thousands of preliminary research articles on mineral geology around the world, they identified 10,556 different combinations and modes of formation of minerals, detailed in the paper, “Minerals on a Paragenetic Mode: A Mineral Evolutionary Perspective.”

–IANS
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Update: 02-July-2022


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