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Titanite the mineral. Sphene the gemstone.

Titanite the mineral. Sphene the gemstone. | geology | Scoop.it
Titanite is a rare calcium titanium silicate mineral. It is a minor ore of titanium and a gemstone known as sphene.

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Beryl & friends

Beryl & friends | geology | Scoop.it
Beryl (BEHR-ill) is a girl's baby name that is also a mineral gemstone, and it has been used since the 19th century.

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How to Cook Up a Volcano: Heat and Serve

How to Cook Up a Volcano: Heat and Serve | geology | Scoop.it
A new study shows how volcanoes cook up an eruption from the cold mush of crystals in their underground magma chambers.
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The giant crystal cave | How It Works Magazine

The giant crystal cave | How It Works Magazine | geology | Scoop.it
The spectacular secret treasures that have been growing beneath Mexico for 500,000 years
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World’s largest blue topaz unveiled 30 years after ‘British Indiana Jones’ escaped Nazis and piranha to get it

World’s largest blue topaz unveiled 30 years after ‘British Indiana Jones’ escaped Nazis and piranha to get it | geology | Scoop.it
THE WORLD'S biggest piece of cut blue topaz gemstone has been unveiled 30 years after it was discovered by a swashbuckling British adventurer likened to Indiana Jones.
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13 glittering, record-setting gems to ogle

From huge pink diamonds to glittering topaz to a giant pearl, these massive gemstones have fascinating histories.
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Rock hounds are on the hunt for new carbon minerals

Rock hounds are on the hunt for new carbon minerals | geology | Scoop.it

A new challenge has scientists searching for dozens of unknown, beguiling crystals
BY SID PERKINS 11:04AM, OCTOBER 4, 2016

CAN YOU DIG IT?  Abellaite, leószilárdite and ewingite (clockwise from left) are three of the seven carbon-bearing minerals recognized by the International Mineralogical Association in the past year. A search is on to find dozens more undiscovered carbon minerals.
LEFT: MATTEO CHINELLATO; RIGHT: TRAVIS OLDS

Magazine issue: Vol. 190, No. 8, October 15, 2016, p. 22

Like many abandoned mines, the Eureka uranium mine in northern Spain is a maze of long, dank tunnels. Water seeping down the walls carries dissolved substances that percolated through rocks overhead. As the water evaporates into the tunnels’ cool air, some of those dissolved ingredients combine to make new substances in solid form.

“The mine is a crystallization factory of weird minerals,” says Jordi Ibáñez-Insa, a physicist at the Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera in Barcelona.

Including the uranium-bearing ores that attracted miners to Eureka in the first place, scientists visiting the mine have cataloged 61 different minerals — solids that have a distinct chemical recipe and arrangement of atoms. The latest find, called abellaite, is a rarity that grows in small pincushions of tiny crystalline needles about 40 to 50 micrometers long. Discovered in July 2010, the mineral has been found only on the walls of a 3-meter-long stretch of one tunnel, says Ibáñez-Insa.

Abellaite is uncommon in another sense: It contains carbon. Of the 5,161 minerals characterized by scientists and recognized by the International Mineralogical Association, just 8 percent, or 416, include carbon.

The Carbon Mineral Challenge, launched last December and running until September 2019, exhorts researchers to scour the landscape — and their museum drawers — for unknown carbon-bearing minerals. In a recent analysis, scientists estimate that there are at least 548 carbon minerals on Earth. That means well over 100 are waiting to be noticed.

The analysis, published in the April American Mineralogist, even provides clues about where scientists and rock hounds should look and what recipes and atomic arrangements such minerals might have.


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'De Beers to begin drilling for diamonds in northern Saskatchewan' @investorseurope #drilling 

'De Beers to begin drilling for diamonds in northern Saskatchewan' @investorseurope #drilling  | geology | Scoop.it
The world's largest diamond mining company is preparing to launch the next phase of its search for the precious stones in Northern Saskatchewan.

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Investors Europe Stock Brokers's curator insight, August 20, 2016 9:05 PM

“I think it ticks the boxes for kimberlites, and if you’ve got kimberlites, you should be looking at them for diamonds,” said CanAlaska president and CEO Peter Dasler, referring to the igneous rock formation named for Kimberly, South Africa. "

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De Beers Harvests Diamonds at the Bottom of the Sea

De Beers Harvests Diamonds at the Bottom of the Sea | geology | Scoop.it
De Beers is pouring money into an operation that mines diamonds at the bottom of the ocean, and is yielding some of the world’s highest-quality gems.

Via Grant W. Graves
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The Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collection | Research & News

The Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collection | Research & News | geology | Scoop.it
A behind-the-scenes exploration of the Smithsonian's Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals.
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Canadian Diamond Mines: The Surprise in Northern Canada

Canadian Diamond Mines: The Surprise in Northern Canada | geology | Scoop.it
Everyone was surprised when Canada produced its first diamonds in 1998. Today Canada is a major source of exceptional quality diamonds.
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'Exceptional' 29.6 carat blue diamond found in South African mine

'Exceptional' 29.6 carat blue diamond found in South African mine | geology | Scoop.it
LONDON (Reuters) - A 29.6 carat blue diamond, one of the rarest and most coveted in the world with a possible price tag of tens of millions of dollars, has been discovered at a South African mine by Petra
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Okla. teen finds 3.85-carat gem at Arkansas park

Okla. teen finds 3.85-carat gem at Arkansas park | geology | Scoop.it
MURFREESBORO, Ark. (AP) — A 14-year-old girl from Oklahoma City has unearthed a 3.85-carat diamond at Arkansas' Crater of Diamonds State Park.
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For a special Valentine? Beyond diamonds and gems: The world's rarest minerals

For a special Valentine?  Beyond diamonds and gems: The world's rarest minerals | geology | Scoop.it

What do 2,500+ obscure, isolated mineral species reveal about Earth?

AMERICAN MINERALOGIST

 

IMAGE: 

NEVADAITE (CU2+,AL,V3+)6[AL8(PO4)8F8](OH)2·22H2O) IS A CATEGORY 1 AND 2 RARITY--FORMED FROM THE SCARCE ELEMENTS VANADIUM AND COPPER UNDER VERY RESTRICTED ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS. THE CRYSTALS ARE COLORFUL BUT MICROSCOPIC, AND ONLY KNOWN FROM... view more 

 

CREDIT: ROBERT DOWNS, UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA

 

Scientists have inventoried and categorized all of Earth's rare mineral species described to date, each sampled from five or fewer sites around the globe. Individually, several of the species have a known supply worldwide smaller than a sugar cube.

 

These 2,550 minerals are far more rare than pricey diamonds and gems usually presented as tokens of love. But while their rarity would logically make them the most precious of minerals, many would not work in a Valentine's Day ring setting. Several are prone to melt, evaporate or dehydrate. And a few, vampire-like, gradually decompose on exposure to sunlight.

 

Their greatest value to humanity lies in the tell-tale clues they offer about the sub-surface conditions and elements that created them, as well as insights into the planet's past biological upheavals. In fact, rare minerals represent Earth's truest distinction from all other planets, according to authors of a paper in press to appear in the journal American Mineralogist.

 

Scientists Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution and Jesse Ausubel of The Rockefeller University say that knowing fully the mineral signature of our life-supporting planet -- understanding the distinct combinations of circumstances that create rare minerals -- also informs anticipation of what an inter-planetary probe might find.

 

Their paper, "On the Nature and Significance of Rarity in Mineralogy," establishes the first system for categorizing rarities in the mineral kingdom and provides mineralogists a framework that parallels one used for understanding rare plant and animal species.

 

The authors note the irony that precious gems and other minerals highly valued by humankind -- including so-called "rare earth" minerals required to make electronics -- don't meet the definition of rare as far as Planet Earth is concerned.

 

Says the paper: "Diamond, ruby, emerald, and other precious gems are found at numerous localities and are sold in commercial quantities, and thus are not rare in the sense used in this contribution. Uses of the word 'rare' in the context of 'rare earth elements' or 'rare metals' are similarly misleading, as many thousands of tons of these commodities are produced annually."

 

On the other hand, notes Dr. Hazen, the mineral ichnusaite (image, http://bit.ly/1NUniMX), exemplifies a true rarity -- created through a subterranean mash-up of the radioactive element thorium and lead-like molybdenum, with only one specimen ever found, in Sardinia a few years ago.

 

"If you wanted to give your fiancé a really rare ring, forget diamond. Give her Sardinian ichnusaite."

 

Fewer than 100 of 5,090 known minerals make up 99% of Earth's crust

There are 5,090 known, formally recognized mineral species (see endnotes), fewer than 100 of which make up 99% of Earth's crust, with a handful of feldspar species comprising about 60%.

 

Of those 5,090, roughly 2,550 are defined as rare -- found at five or fewer locations worldwide. And, according to the paper, more than two-thirds of known mineral species, "including the great majority of rare species, have been attributed to biological changes in Earth's near-surface environment."

 

"We need to re-think 'animal, vegetable, or mineral'," says Prof. Ausubel. "In the old parlor game, if it isn't alive, doesn't grow and comes from the ground, it's a mineral, but some of these rare minerals do grow and don't entirely come from the ground."

 

Each rare mineral (a selection of 99 examples is available at http://bit.ly/1KlU6U4) fits into one or more of four categories:

 

1) Unique conditions that created the mineral

"In very simple terms, imagine making minerals at a kitchen stove using a pressure cooker," says Dr. Hazen. "What results in the pot is a function of variables: temperature, pressure and the ingredients -- one or more of just 72 chemical elements that make up Earth's mineral kingdom."

"Some minerals are rare because, even though they form from the commonest of ingredients, they must be cooked at exquisitely controlled conditions. For example, the mineral hatrurite,(http://www.mindat.org/min-1828.html) is formed from three of Earth's most abundant elements--calcium, silicon, and oxygen. But hatrurite forms only in a very restricted environment with temperatures above 1250°C -- many times hotter than the boiling point of water -- and in the absence of another extremely common element, aluminum."


By knowing the idiosyncratic combination of circumstances involved in a rare mineral's creation, scientists can deduce what elements are or aren't present at a specific depth, and in some cases such information as acidity at that level below surface.

 

2) Planetary constraints:

Incorporation of rare elements, or mineral formation at pressure-temperature conditions rarely encountered in near-surface environments

Other minerals are extremely rare because their ingredients are almost never found concentrated in Earth's crust. Thus, such scarce chemical elements as beryllium, hafnium and tellurium form relatively few minerals and most species are rare.

 

3) Ephemeral minerals

Some minerals form under unusual conditions--extreme cold or dry environments, for example--but then simply melt, evaporate or dehydrate when exposed to different surface conditions.

 

A crystalline form of methane hydrate, for example, found in core samples from continental shelf and Arctic drill sites, evaporates at room pressure.

 

As well, "water-soluble minerals may also be under-reported, and thus appear to be rare," the paper says. More than 100 mineral species can persist in dry environments for many years, "only to be washed away during rare rain events."

 

Among the least stable are rare mineral species that adsorb moisture from the air then dissolve in it. And a few, like edoylerite (http://www.mindat.org/min-1354.html), Metasideronatrite (mindat.org/gm/2685) and Sideronatrite (http://www.mindat.org/min-3650.html) gradually decompose on exposure to sunlight.

 

4) Places geologists rarely sample

In the fourth category are rare minerals that simply come from under-sampled regions, from extreme environments such as the flanks of erupting volcanoes, frigid and remote regions of Antarctica, or the deepest reaches of the oceans. Other minerals that may be much more common than are represented in mineral museums include a host of species that are difficult to recognize based of their lack of bright colors or showy crystal faces. Most mineral collectors favour eye-popping specimens for their display case.

 

As well, some minerals occur only at the micro or nano-scale. A number of rare minerals known only from Otto Mountain, near San Bernardino in southern California, for example, have been discovered recently through the use of high-tech instruments.

 

Positive sampling biases also likely affect perceptions of mineral rarity. Intensive searches for deposits of gold, uranium and "rare earths" needed by the electronics industry, for example, have undoubtedly led to the discovery and reporting of certain mineral species at more localities relative to commercially unimportant elements, according to the paper.

 

Most mineral experts are familiar with at best a handful of the 2,550 obscure rarities, says Dr. Hazen, citing the mineral fingerite from El Salvador as "a perfect storm of rarity."

 

"Fingerite forms under extremely restrictive conditions (category 1), from rare elements (category 2), it is water soluble and disappears when rained upon (category 3), and it comes from dangerous volcanic fumeroles near active volcanoes, so is rarely collected (category 4). Consequently, fingerite is only known from near the summit of the Izalco Volcano in El Salvador.

 

As in biology, the scientist who first describes a new mineral earns the right to name it. Fingerite (photo: http://bit.ly/1So4Ap4), described in 1983, was named in honour of mineralogist and crystallographer Larry Finger, a longtime colleague of Dr. Hazen.

 

Biological vs. mineralogical rarity

 

The paper points out important differences between biological and mineralogical rarity. For example, biological species, once extinct, will not re-emerge naturally. Rare minerals, on the other hand, may disappear from Earth for a time, only to reappear when the necessary physical and chemical conditions arise again.

 

"In contrast to mineral species, biological species that do not become extinct nevertheless are constantly evolving, in some instances not so gradually, into new forms."

 

"Minerals do not evolve in this way, though an intriguing and as yet little explored aspect of mineralogy is how trace and minor elements and isotopes in common mineral species have varied through Earth history in response to changing near-surface conditions."

Rare minerals, the authors say:

 

Are key to understanding the diversity and disparity of Earth's mineralogical environments;

 

Often point to extreme compositional regimes that can arise in Earth's shallow crust;

 

Are valuable in understanding Earth as a complex evolving system in which pervasive fluid-rock interactions and biological processes lead to new mineral-forming niches

 

Increase the likelihood of finding novel crystal structures and advancing crystal chemistry

 

Finally, they say, "another possible contribution of rare minerals, though as yet speculative, relates to the origins of life. While most origins-of-life scenarios incorporate common minerals such as feldspars or clays, a number of uncommon minerals, including species of sulfides, borates, and molybdates, have also been invoked."

 

"We live on a planet with remarkable mineralogical diversity, featuring countless variations of color and form, richly varied geochemical niches, and captivating compositional and structural complexities. Rare species, comprising as they do more than half of the diversity of Earth's rich mineral kingdom, thus provide the clearest and most compelling window into the complexities of the evolving mineralogical realm."

 

The paper was prepared as a contribution to the Deep Carbon Observatory, a cooperative international project concerned with quantities, movements, origins and forms of the element carbon.

 

###

 

Endnotes

About the authors:

 

Robert Hazen is Senior Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, DC, and Executive Director of the Deep Carbon Observatory.

 

Jesse Ausubel, Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University in New York City, is also an adjunct member of the faculty at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and at Resources for the Future.  Prof. Ausubel became interested in the question of rare biological species through his participation in the Census of Marine Life research program (2000-2010).

 

Under the auspices of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Mr. Ausubel, Dr. Hazen and Carnegie colleague Russell Hemley founded the Deep Carbon Observatory in 2009.

 

A mineral species is defined as a naturally occurring crystalline compound that has a unique combination chemical composition and crystal structure. As of January 31, 2016, the International Mineralogical Association (the official governing body for mineralogy) has approved 5090 species (see rruff.info/ima for a complete list).

 

In two other recently-published papers, Dr. Hazen and colleagues estimated that more than 1,500 mineral species remain undiscovered. And, of the roughly 5,000 known mineral species, about 8% (406) contain carbon elements.

 

In a mineral, the presence of carbon -- the stuff of plant and animal life -- is the multi-billion year mash-up result of life meeting rock.

An estimated 145 carbon-bearing minerals are unknown to science, and in December, 2015 the Deep Carbon Observatory created a public challenge to find them all by 2019 (http://mineralchallenge.net/), noting the most likely locations for finding them.

 

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


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Top 10 World’s Rarest & Valuable Gems @Investorseurope

Top 10 World’s Rarest & Valuable Gems @Investorseurope | geology | Scoop.it
A gemstone or gem (also called a fine gem, jewel, or a precious or semi-precious stone) is a piece of mineral crystal, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments.
However, certain rocks (such as lapis lazuli) or organic materials that are not minerals (such as amber or jet), are also used for jewelry, and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals

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Investors Europe Stock Brokers's curator insight, May 9, 2016 2:11 AM

"Dig in to the world of incredibly expensive jewels with our rundown of ten of the world's rarest and most valuable gemstones."

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Miners Discover The Worlds Largest Crystal Geode in Spain

Miners Discover The Worlds Largest Crystal Geode in Spain | geology | Scoop.it
     A gigantic cave of crystals has been discovered in an old silver mine in Spain.
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Shells could be 200 MILLION years older than thought

Shells could be 200 MILLION years older than  thought | geology | Scoop.it
Researchers at Williams College in Massachusetts say the minerals of the ancient ‘shells’ are made up of calcium phosphate rather than calcium carbonate, like that of snail shells (pictured).
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Father-Daughter Gem Hunters Find 2.03-Carat Diamond

Father-Daughter Gem Hunters Find 2.03-Carat Diamond | geology | Scoop.it
A father and daughter team of gem hunters made quite the discovery earlier this month at a state park in Arkansas -- a 2.03-carat diamond.
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The World’s Most Valuable Jade Found In Burma

The World’s Most Valuable Jade Found In Burma | geology | Scoop.it
And for something random and odd, but holy cow, here is the most valuable jade found in Burma by surprised miners.
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Super-Rare Minerals Make Earth Unique in Cosmos : DNews

Super-Rare Minerals Make Earth Unique in Cosmos : DNews | geology | Scoop.it

Earth is home to 2,550 exotic minerals, some so scarce the world supply would fit inside a sugar cube. → Continue reading →


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Investors Europe Stock Brokers's curator insight, March 19, 2016 11:53 AM

'Scientists Robert Hazen of the Carnegie Institution and Jesse Ausubel of The Rockefeller University, whose research paper will appear in a future issue of the journal American Mineralogist, have inventoried the world’s rarest mineral species. Their database includes 2,550 substances that are far rarer than diamonds and gemstones. Several, in fact, are so scarce that the known supply worldwide would be smaller than a sugar cube. Many are incredibly fragile, with a tendency to melt, evaporate or dehydrate, and a few will decompose if they are exposed to sunlight.'

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The Five Most Expensive Colored Diamonds Sold in the Last 40 Years

The Five Most Expensive Colored Diamonds Sold in the Last 40 Years | geology | Scoop.it
These vibrant gems break all the rules and all the records…

Via Enzo Calamo
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How to Cook Up a Volcano: Heat and Serve

How to Cook Up a Volcano: Heat and Serve | geology | Scoop.it
A new study shows how volcanoes cook up an eruption from the cold mush of crystals in their underground magma chambers.
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This pink diamond sold for a historic record of $18 million

This pink diamond sold for a historic record of $18 million | geology | Scoop.it
It has set a world auction record on a per-carat basis for a gem of this colour.
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Inside Australia's graphite boom

Inside Australia's graphite boom | geology | Scoop.it
2014 has seen graphite stocks in Australia take-off with the value of ASX-listed companies topping $1bn
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Fire Opal - Pictures of Fire Opal

Fire Opal - Pictures of Fire Opal | geology | Scoop.it
Fire opal is a translucent to transparent opal with a background color in a fiery hue of yellow, orange or red.
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