Close Window
New Mineral Discovered in Historic Meteorite June 29, 2012
Top: The meteorite that brought panguite to Earth. Bottom: Microscopic view of panguite formations.
Scientists have identified a previously unknown mineral from samples of a meteoric fireball that exploded over northern Mexico in 1969.

After more than 40 years of research into what was eventually named the Allende meteorite, researchers from the California Institute of Technology discovered the new mineral embedded in what are believed to be some of the first solid materials to coalesce in our solar system, roughly 4.5 billion years ago.

Dubbed "panguite," the new titanium oxide is named after Pan Gu, the giant from ancient Chinese mythology who established the world by separating yin from yang to create the earth and the sky.

The mineral’s chemical name is (Ti4+,Sc,Al,Mg,Zr,Ca)1.8O3, meaning that it contains common elements such as oxygen, magnesium and aluminum, as well as the more exotic zirconium and scandium.

A paper describing its properties was published online June 26 in the journal American Mineralogist.

Photos: Chi Ma / Caltech