Researchers have discovered a new mineral, one never before seen in nature, lodged inside a meteorite found near Wedderburn in central Victoria.
This meteorite is significant as it contains one of the rarest minerals on earth, named ‘Edscottite’.
This meteorite was found a few miles from Wedderburn by Charles Bell, who donated it to the Geological Survey Museum in September 1951. When found, it was merely a lemon-sized lump of metal with a mass of 210 grams. Since it was brought to scientific attention in the early 1950s, this little Victorian meteorite has been studied by leading meteorite researchers at some of the world’s most renowned scientific institutions. It has since been classified as belonging to one of the rarest sub-groups, known as 1AB sLH, out of all the recorded iron-nickel meteorites. It has one of the highest nickel contents, around 24 percent, of any meteorite.
A research team based at the University of California Los Angeles and the California Institute of Technology were able to study a thin slice of the meteorite and found it contained tiny grains of an entirely new mineral, an iron carbide with a chemical formula Fe5C2, named edscottite in honour of pioneering cosmochemist Professor Edward R Scott at the University of Hawai’i. The mineral was likely forged in the molten core of an ancient planet long since destroyed, and then strewn across the solar system.