New mineral discovery in Western Australia

A unique mineral unrelated to any other has been unearthed at Lake Cowan in Western Australia.

Name 'putnisite', the mineral has been declared unique by Dr Peter Elliott from the University of Adelaide after thorough analysis.

"Most minerals belong to a family or small group of related minerals, or if they aren't related to other minerals they often are to a synthetic compound – but putnisite is completely unique and unrelated to anything,” Elliot said.

The new mineral occurs as tiny crystals, no more than 0.5 mm in diameter and is found on a volcanic rock.

It appears as dark pink spots on dark green and white rock which, under the microscope, appears as square, cube-like crystals.

 It combines the elements strontium, calcium, chromium, sulphur, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen – in what has been described as a “very unusual combination.”

"Nature seems to be far cleverer at dreaming up new chemicals than any researcher in a laboratory,” Elliot said.

It has yet to be determined if the new mineral will have any practical use and its name is awaiting approval by the International Mineralogical Association.

Putnisite has been named for Australian mineralogists Andrew and Christine Putnis.

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