Mineral carbonation is a reaction of carbon dioxide, and it takes place in nature as the process of rock weathering by rainwater. Researchers have discovered 31 new carbon minerals between 2015 and 2019, the majority of them having vibrant colors. Edscottite, although it is not part of the majority as it doesn’t have a vivid color, it left geologists dumbfounded.
This new not so flashy Edscottite is an iron carbide mineral, and it was known in the past to happen during iron smelting; a stage iron goes through when it’s cooling down from a high temperature. What amazed the researchers is that this carbon mineral was identified as occurring in nature when it was discovered in a tiny meteorite.
Meteorite’s name is Wedderburn and has been stored in Museums Victoria in Australia since found in 1951. Researches have opened up the meteorite for studies just for as long.
“We have discovered 500,000 to 600,000 minerals in the lab, but fewer than 6,000 that nature’s done itself,” said Stuart Mills, Museums Victoria’s senior curator of geosciences.
Edscottite – The Carbon Mineral That Might Have Formed on Another Planet
The extraordinary iron carbide was first discovered in 1971 while studying the Wedderburn meteorite by Ed R.D. Scott, a cosmochemist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and pioneering meteorite researcher. Unfortunately, back then, technology wasn’t so advanced for him to study its structure.
Ed R.D. Scott might have discovered an iron carbide, Edscottite, that was formed in space. Chi Ma of Caltech and Alan Rubin at UCLA, two researchers have analyzed a piece of the meteorite and were astonished to discover edscottite under an electron microscope.
Researchers are still unsure how the edscottite has developed. According to Geoffrey Bonning, a planetary scientist at the Australian National University who was not involved with the study, it may be that it was formed on another planet.
“This meteorite had an abundance of carbon in it. And as it slowly cooled down, the iron and carbon came together and formed this mineral,” Mills said.