Monday , November 29 2021

Scientists have discovered new exotic minerals forged in the furnace of a Russian volcano


Volcanoes are among the most destructive and amazing phenomena on the planet. But these fires do much more than destroy them. They also create.

In a new study, Russian researchers have reported the discovery of such a creation – an unusual mineral that scientists have never documented: an attractive blue and green crystallized substance that the group has called petrovite.

The mineral was found in the extreme volcanic landscape of eastern Russia, on the Tolbachik volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula.

010 petrovita 4Petrovita blue crystalline crust. (Filatov et al., Journal of Mineralogical, 2020)

Tolbachik’s eruptive history dates back thousands of years, but two notable events stand out in recent times: the “Great Tolbachik Rift Eruption” in 1975-1976, and the second minor follow-up between 2012-2013.

The force of the eruptions in the first event tore through numerous ash cones in the volcanic complex, which since opening up the rocky ground, has been found to be rich in deposits of fumarole and unknown minerals that have not been seen anywhere else.

In total, Tolbachi claims that the 130 locally identified minerals of the volcano were first identified, and the last is petrovite, a mineral sulfate that is treated as a blue aggregate of the crystals in the table crystals, many of which have gas inclusions.

The specimen examined here was found in 2000, next to the second ash cone associated with the 1975 eruption, and was saved for later study. It may take a long time, but this analysis reveals that this blue-green mineral has special molecular traces that are rarely seen so far.

The copper atom in Petrovite’s crystal structure has an unusual and very rare coordination of seven oxygen atoms, “said Stanislav Filatov, a senior researcher and crystallographer at the University of St. Petersburg.

“This coordination is characteristic of a couple of compounds, as well as that of sarantxinite.”

010 petrovita 4Petrovita individual grain. (Filatov et al., Journal of Mineralogical, 2020)

Saranchinaite, identified by another group in St. Petersburg a couple of years ago, was also found in Tolbachik and, like petrovite, is the same color.

In the case of petrovita, the mineral is believed to crystallize through direct precipitation of volcanic gases, taken as blue crystallocrystalline crusts surrounding fine pyroclastic material.

At the chemical level, petrovite assumes a new type of crystal structure, although it has similarities to sarantxinite, from which it can arise, hypothetically.

It is noteworthy that the molecular framework of petrovita – composed of oxygen atoms, sodium sulfur and copper – is actually porous, showing the interconnected pathways that allow sodium ions to migrate from the structure.

Because of this behavior, and we can repeat the scope in the laboratory, the team believes that this could lead to important applications in materials science, allowing new ways to develop cathodes for use in batteries and electrical devices.

010 petrovita 4A crystal structure that shows sodium migration pathways. (Filatov et al., Journal of Mineralogical, 2020)

“Currently, the biggest problem with this use is the small amount of transition metal (copper) in the crystal structure of the mineral,” says Filatov.

“A compound with the same structure as Petrovita could be solved by synthesizing it in the laboratory.”

Annual findings are reported Mineralogical Journal.

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