General view of the discovered rock with an allabogdanite-berringerite formation. Credit: Mineralocigal Society of America

Mystery Mineral Thought To Only Exist in Meteorites Found on Earth for the First Time

How did this mineral end up on Earth when there is no evidence of large collisions in the region?

Allabogdanite is a rare mineral that had only ever been found in meteorites in the past. Now, suddenly, researchers have discovered it near the Dead Sea. But there are neither indications of an impact nor indications of an origin from the depths of the earth. How did it get there?


The mineral allabogdanite belongs to the group of phosphines and has so far only been found in iron-rich meteorites on rare occasions. And it was discovered less than 20 years ago for the first time, in fragments of a meteorite found in eastern Yakutia.

The unique mineral structure of the substance was later examined in detail and was given its current name in honor of Russian researcher Alla Bogdanova. Well, apparently it does exist on Earth as well but it took decades for us to discover it.

Experts discovered a mineral only found in meteorites at a place where there has not been an impact

Allabogdanite was found in the surface rocks of the Hatrurim Formation in the Negev Desert in Israel. However, there are no signs of a meteorite collision. Neither is the rock there connected to the depths of the earth. Therefore, the mineral raises more questions at this point than it brings answers.

How the mineral got there will likely remain a mystery for some time and the extraterrestrial origin remains a possibility in this case. Research at the “German Electron Synchrotron” (DESY), a particle accelerator, has shown that the mineral only forms at extremely high pressure of over 25 gigapascals.

Background: That is about 250,000 times the atmospheric pressure. The pressure at the lower limit of the earth’s crust is less than a tenth of that 25 gigapascals. This suggests that the mineral found in meteorites cannot be originating from our planet.

For all that is already known, allabogdanite is formed from another mineral – barringerite – and is preserved as a result of “hardening”, that is, a sharp drop in temperature and pressure.

The Hatrurim Basin in Israel, as seen from the East. This is where geologists discovered the mineral that was only known in meteorites in the past. Credit: Mineralogical Society of America
The Hatrurim Basin in Israel, as seen from the East. This is where geologists discovered the mineral that was only known in meteorites in the past. Credit: Mineralogical Society of America

All the questions that have been raised this far can be answered only by further research. Experts have to locate other existing instances of the mineral previously found only in meteorites elsewhere, or at least in the surrounding area. This may not solve the mystery directly, but it could give scientists a clear direction for research.

Also, it is important to mention that there is absolutely no evidence of meteorite collisions in the region, nor have scientists found any visual signs. This does not mean that it has not happened.

Experts note that the natural processes of geological erosion could have erased all evidence from the surface of the Earth. If we want to get more answers, we need to dig deeper.


Join the discussion and participate in awesome giveaways in our mobile Telegram group. Join Curiosmos on Telegram Today. t.me/Curiosmos


Sources:

Britvin, S. N. (2021, June 1). Discovery of terrestrial allabogdanite (Fe,Ni)2P, and the effect of Ni and Mo substitution on the barringerite-allabogdanite high-pressure transition. American Mineralogist.
Dockrill, P. (n.d.). Mysterious Mineral Only Ever Seen in Meteorites Inexplicably Found by The Dead Sea.
EurekAlert! (n.d.). Scientists discover at the Dead Sea a mineral previously only known in meteorites.
Phys.org. (2021, June 29). Mineral previously known only in meteorites discovered at Dead Sea.
St. Petersburg University. (n.d.). Scientists from St Petersburg University discover at the Dead Sea a mineral previously only known in meteorites.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. My experience as a freelance writer began in 2018 but I have been part of the Curiosmos family since mid-2020. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

Write for us

We’re always looking for new guest authors and we welcome individual bloggers to contribute high-quality guest posts.

Get In Touch