Earth’s Most Abundant, But Hidden Mineral Finally Seen, Named

Jun 17, 2014

By Jeanna Bryner

Earth’s most abundant mineral lies deep in the planet’s interior, sealed off from human eyes. Now, scientists for the first time have gotten a glimpse of the material in nature, enclosed inside a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite. The result: They have characterized and named the elusive mineral.

The new official name, bridgmanite, was approved for the mineral formerly known by its chemical components and crystal structure — silicate-perovskite. The magnesium-silicate mineral was named after Percy Bridgman, a 1946 Nobel Prize-winning physicist, according to the American Geophysical Union blog.

“It is a very exciting discovery,” Chi Ma of Caltech and Oliver Tschauner, of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, told Live Science in an email. “We finally tracked down natural silicate-perovskite (now bridgmanite) in a meteorite after a five-year investigation, and got to name the most abundant mineral on Earth. How cool is that?”

The mineral likely resides beneath Earth’s surface in an area called the lower mantle, between the transition zone in the mantle and the core-mantle boundary, or between the depths of416 and 1,802 miles (670 and 2,900 kilometers), scientists said.

Scientists have been searching for the mineral for a long time, because in order to identify a mineral one must know its chemical composition and crystal structure, Ma said.

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