Reidite Found in Australia: world’s rarest minerals hidden away inside a 300 million-year-old meteorite crater.
Known as reidite, it’s the first time the material has been found in Australia and only the 6th time in history it’s ever been detected.
But Curtin University research supervisor Aaron Cavosie told Xinhua on Wednesday that there was a lot of serendipity involved in the team’s amazing find.
“Reidite is so rare that you can’t set out to find it,” he said. “It’s so small that you need a high powered microscopic to see.”
“But because it’s rare, people think it must be very valuable. Gold and diamonds are very valuable, but with reidite, all of the world’s known reidite could probably fit under your fingernail.”
“If someone proposed to you with a reidite ring, you’d probably want to find another person to marry because it wouldn’t be a very impressive stone,” Cavosie joked.
Only found previously in meteorite craters in China, Germany, Canada, Britain and the United States, researchers located the reidite in Australia about 750 km north of Perth at the Woodleigh Crater near Shark Bay while examining the ancient site.
“Not a lot is known about Woodleigh because it’s buried,” Cavosie explained.
“When the impact event formed, younger sediments and rocks covered it up and today there is nothing exposed on the surface.”
“There’s an argument about how large it is, some think it is around 50 km in diameter and others say it might be greater than 120 km.”
According to Cavosie, because extremely large meteorites like the site at Woodleigh have the ability to change earth’s history, it’s vital that scientists learn as much as they can in order to unlock the secrets of what’s below.
Pivotal to the creation of reidite, the pressure caused by meteorites is the determining factor in how the mineral is formed.
“Reidite doesn’t just materialize out of the air, it starts off as a common mineral called zircon,” Cavosie said.
“From a small-scale point of view, zircon is made up of a bunch of atoms which are comfortably arranged but when an asteroid impact occurs, some of the effects are very, very high pressures.”
“They get squished and all the spaces between them get removed and when you change the physical structure of atoms, you actually create new materials and that is the process in which reidite is created.”