Researchers have found a rare mineral that comes directly from Earth’s lower mantle- the region between the planet’s core and crust.
The mineral was trapped inside a diamond. It is being called ‘davemaoite,’ as it managed to make the improbable voyage from at least 412 meters within the lower mantle.
Davemaoite’s radioactive ability drives how heat moves through the deep Earth.
Davemaoite makes up mostly 5-7 percent of the material in Earth’s lower mantle and is one of three significant minerals there. It is mostly composed of calcium silicate perovskite (CaSiO3)- arguably the most important phase (geochemically) of Earth’s lower mantle.
One reason for this is due to davemaoite’s unique ability to scavenge radioactive isotopes of uranium, thorium, and potassium.
“For jewelers and buyers, the size, color, and clarity of a diamond all matter, and inclusions — those black specks that annoy the jeweler — for us, they’re a gift,” said Oliver Tschauner in a press release from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and co-leader of the study.
A new mineral has been found through a specialized X-ray technique called a synchrotron.
It was done by Tschauner and collaborators, including geochemist Shichun Huang from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
They found a unique crystalline substance that they called “davemaoite.” The name takes after the experimental geophysicist Ho-Kwang “Dave” Mao.
Davemaoite has since been approved as a brand-new natural mineral by the Commission of New Minerals, Nomenclature, and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association.
This discovery of davemaoite by Tschauner shows just one of the two ways that highly pressured minerals are discovered in nature: from the interior of meteorites or between 410 and 560 miles beneath the Earth’s surface.
Tschauder made a lot of progress in the area of the interior of meteorites when he discovered the mineral “bridgmanite” back in 2014.
He is hopeful that more mineral discoveries will soon be made. This will allow the researchers to describe the evolution of the Earth’s mantle more accurately.