New mineral unearthed in Tanzania

Image: Michigan Tech, John Jaszczak

A new mineral has been discovered in the Merelani mining district in Tanzania – dubbed merelaniite.

A physicist found it among a sample of larger minerals in the district, which is rich in a range of minerals including tanzanite and tsavorite used in jewellery, Science Daily reports.

John Jaszczak, psychics professor at Michigan Tech, said the district was a “mineral collector’s paradise and an exciting place to look for new minerals”, with the new mineral named after the region it was found in.

“The importance of the area is the reason we wanted to give tribute to the miners and name merelaniite for the district,” he said.

There are 5179 minerals listed by the International Mineralogical Association’s Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC). While they receive more than 80 proposals each year for new ones, several turn out to be variations of existing minerals.

Before merelaniite was deemed a new mineral, it underwent a series of tests which revealed a complex structure made up of layers of molybdenum disulphide alternating at the atomic scale with layers of lead sulphide. It also showed vanadium, antimony, bismuth, and selenium.

These layers curve inward, and grow into a scroll-like cylinder.

Specific applications for the mineral will be found once there is a better understanding of its crystal chemistry.

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