This mineral, which can only form under high pressure and high temperatures in the earth’s mantle, was never seen before until scientists discovered a sample of it in a diamond
Scientists were shocked when a never-before-seen mineral was found in a diamond mined deep beneath the earth’s surface.
The mineral was named davemaoite after the famous geophysicist Ho-Kwang (Dave) Mao. It is the first example of a high pressure calcium silicate perovskite (CaSiO3) found on earth.
While another form of CaSiO3 known as wollastonite is common around the world, this version has a crystalline structure that can only form under high pressure and temperature in the earth’s mantle – the mainly solid layer of the earth that lies between the outer core and the The earth’s mantle is enclosed by the crust.
Although davemaoite has never been seen before, it is expected to be abundant in the Earth’s mantle and to be a geochemically important mineral.
Scientists have never found direct evidence of its existence, however, as it breaks down into other minerals when the pressure drops as it is brought to the surface for inspection.
But Boffins recently found a diamond in Botswana that formed in the earth’s mantle about 660 kilometers below the earth’s surface, writes LiveScience.
Analysis of the diamond revealed that the unknown mineral trapped in the diamond is a sample of intact davemaoite.
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The International Mineralogical Association can now confirm it as a new mineral.
“The Davemaoite discovery came as a surprise,” lead author Oliver Tschauner, a mineralogist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told Live Science.
According to Tschauner, the sample found was only a few micrometers (millionths of a meter) in size.
Scientists believe that davemaoite plays an important role in the geochemical composition of the planet. They believe the mineral may also contain other trace elements, including uranium and thorium, which release heat through radioactive decay.
It could help to generate a significant amount of heat in the jacket, says Tschauner.