European scientists find new high-pressure mineral donwilhelmsite from moon
New Delhi : The European scientists have discovered a new high-pressure mineral donwilhelmsite from the moon in a lunar meteorite.
This is for the first time when such a high-pressure mineral was found in meteorites with the application for terrestrial sediments dragged deep into the Earth mantle by plate tectonics. With this, the researchers will be able to study what happens to the minerals when they pass through extreme pressure of Earth's mantle.
For those who are wondering about what is donwilhelmsite, it is a rock made up of calcium, aluminium, silicon, and oxygen atoms. It was discovered within the lunar meteorite Oued Awlitis 001 found in 2014 in Western Sahara.
In the terrestrial rock cycle, donwilhelmsite is an essential agent for transporting continental crustal sediments through the transition zone of the Earth’s mantle (460-700 km depth).
Till date, the several Apollo and Luna missions have been able to gather around 382 kilograms of rocks and soils. Meanwhile, lunar meteorites play a significant role in helping scientists study the formation and evolution of the Moon.
Ejected by impacts onto the lunar surface and delivered to Earth, some of these meteorites experienced especially high temperatures and pressures.
Dr. Vera Assis Fernandes of The University of Manchester measured the Argon isotopic composition of lunar rocks to date their complicated history, including magmatic formation, multiple impact bombardments, and cosmic exposure rays on the lunar surface, over billions of years.
Dr. Fernandes said, "During impact bombardment, rocks like the lunar meteorite Oued Awlitis 001 experience extreme physical conditions. This often led to shock melting of microscopic areas forming veins or melt pockets within these meteorites."
"These shocking areas are of great relevance as they mirror pressure and temperature regimes similar to those prevailing in the Earth’s mantle, and therefore are natural crucibles hosting minerals that are otherwise naturally inaccessible at the Earth’s surface," she added.