The Earth is unique among all planets because of its ability to sustain life. This ability has been linked to the presence of super rare minerals that cannot be found in more than five areas on the planet. One particular mineral, Fingerite, is dubbed as the "perfect storm of rarity."
In the study published in the journal American Mineralogist, researchers Robert Hazen and Jesse Ausubel teamed up to classify and categorize all of Earth's rare mineral species. All 2,550 minerals are rarer than expensive diamonds and gems. Among the minerals they catalogued are Bernalite, Ulrichite, Olmiite, Hazenite and Fingerite.
Fingerite is among the rarest minerals they classified. Aside from being seen in just one area in the planet, at the summit of Izalco volcano in El Salvador, it is made up of rare elements, vanadium and copper. These two elements should exist together and form under unique and specific conditions such as near active volcanoes.
First described in 1983, Fingerite was named after the mineralogist Larry Finger, who worked with Dr. Hazen for a long time.
"If you just change the ratio of copper to vanadium slightly, you get a different mineral. And every time it rains, Fingerite washes away," Dr Hazen explained.
Cobaltominite, Abelsonite and Edoylerite also belong to this particular category wherein they will not form unless the cooking temperature is perfect, the combination of elements is equal and the pressure has to be in the narrowest of margins. This is why they are considered super rare minerals on the surface of the planet.
The new catalogue of the rarest minerals on Earth allows scientists to measure how abundant these resources are and to identify the locations where they can be found. For those that can be used in industries, this can be helpful in identifying the characteristics and value of the minerals.
The study also sheds light in the importance of the minerals to the Earth's existence. This provides a better understanding about the Earth and its chemical environment. These minerals provide an insight for scientists to determine the Earth's construction and how these elements promote harmony among the planet's diverse processes.
"Rare minerals are valuable in understanding Earth as a complex, evolving ecosystem in which pervasive fluid-rock interactions and biological processes lead to new mineral-forming niches," the researchers said.