At least two new minerals in the El Ali meteorite

The meteorite was identified as a celestial object in 2020 near the town of El Ali, Somalia's Hiiraan region, and has since attracted onlookers.

The meteorite was identified as a celestial object in 2020 near the town of El Ali, Somalia’s Hiiraan region, and has since attracted onlookers.

The El Ali meteorite; also known as Nightfall is a 15.2 ton meteorite that was known to the local population in Somalia for generations, but first scientifically identified in 2020.

Scientists at the University of Alberta, Canada, have identified at least two new minerals in the El Ali meteorite. A third is under investigation. The discovery was presented at the Space Exploration Symposium.

Possessing a sample of the “rock,” researchers at the University of Alberta have identified minerals never seen naturally on Earth.

Scientists at the University of Alberta, Canada, have identified at least two new minerals in the El Ali meteorite. A third is under investigation. The discovery was presented at the Space Exploration Symposium.

The meteorite was identified as a celestial object in 2020 near the town of El Ali, Somalia’s Hiiraan region, and has since attracted onlookers.

Possessing a sample of the “rock,” researchers at the University of Alberta have identified minerals never seen naturally on Earth.

Scientists at the University of Alberta, Canada, have identified at least two new minerals in the El Ali meteorite. A third is under investigation. The discovery was presented atthe Space Exploration Symposium.

The meteorite was identified as a celestial object in 2020 near the town of El Ali, Somalia’s Hiiraan region, and has since attracted onlookers.

Possessing a sample of the “rock,” researchers at the University of Alberta have identified minerals never seen naturally on Earth.

The El Ali meteorite
The El Ali meteorite

The Two Discoveries

The two newly discovered minerals have been named elaliite and elkinstantonite. The first receives its name from the meteorite itself, dubbed the “El Ali” meteorite because it was found in near the town of El Ali, in the Hiiraan region of Somalia. Herd named the second mineral after Lindy Elkins-Tanton, vice president of the ASU Interplanetary Initiative, professor at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and principal investigator of NASA’s upcoming Psyche mission. 

“Lindy has done a lot of work on how the cores of planets form, how these iron nickel cores form, and the closest analogue we have are iron meteorites. So it made sense to name a mineral after her and recognize her contributions to science,” Herd explains.

In collaboration with researchers at UCLA and the California Institute of Technology, Herd classified the El Ali meteorite as an “Iron, IAB complex” meteorite, one of over 350 in that particular category. 

What this means

For scientists, this is an opportunity to study and classify the new elements, which may in the future have practical uses in our daily lives.

But there may be a problem for the advancement of research: El Ali is “missing”. After being classified as a celestial object, there was a movement for the commercialization of the meteorite.

The researchers hope that more fragments will be made available for study, contributing to science increasingly understanding the formation of celestial objects, and perhaps understanding how planets form.

The El Ali Meteorite: Ancient History and New Minerals

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