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Rare Moon Mineral Found On Earth

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the made-in-wisconsin dept.

Earth 64

sciencehabit writes "A mineral previously known only from moon rocks and lunar meteorites has now been found on Earth. Researchers discovered the substance — dubbed tranquillityite after the Sea of Tranquility, where Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the Moon in July 1969— at six sites in Western Australia (abstract). The mineral occurs only in minuscule amounts and has no economic value, but scientists say it could be used for age-dating the rocks in which it occurs."

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Rare and of no economic value, huh? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579214)

Sounds just like the occasional pearl of wisdom that my brother might offer.

Re:Rare and of no economic value, huh? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579330)

Sounds just like the occasional pearl of wisdom that my brother might offer.

I think the point was that it can't be used for anything.. it's not an energy source or something that can be systhesized into super heat resistant jock straps or taken for depression.. hence no economic value. Still valuable, but valuable like a collectible, not valuable like unobtanium.

Re:Rare and of no economic value, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579372)

I think the point was that it can't be used for anything

Just like my brother's advice. Occasionally, he comes up with something that seems insightful, but it's still totally worthless.

Re:Rare and of no economic value, huh? (2)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579676)

I think the point was that it can't be used for anything

Just like my brother's advice. Occasionally, he comes up with something that seems insightful, but it's still totally worthless.

Let me guess, your brother is Bennett [tumblr.com] ?

Re:Rare and of no economic value, huh? (1)

cffrost (885375) | more than 2 years ago | (#38593008)

Thank you, that's an entertaining website.

Someone please mod gmhowell Informative/Interesting/Underrated.

Re:Rare and of no economic value, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38582444)

But it makes an excellent portal conductor.

Re:Rare and of no economic value, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580700)

Rare and of no economic value, huh?

Sounds just like the occasional pearl of wisdom that my brother might offer.

And THAT sounds just like the kind of lame destructive snide crack that MY brother would make.

Re:Rare and of no economic value, huh? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581078)

Sounds just like the occasional pearl of wisdom that my brother might offer.

Sounds like slashdot karma.

Re:Rare and of no economic value, huh? (1)

bratwiz (635601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581150)

Scott !?!?

What are YOU doing here? I didn't know you read Slashdot!

Well... this is a bit awkward then, isn't it?

Missing Moon Rocks? (5, Funny)

monzie (729782) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579314)

Maybe the people who stole the moon rocks [wikipedia.org] finally decided to scatter them at remote places and run away.

No Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579316)

How is there no economic value? Isn't this essentially moon rock?

Re:No Value? (5, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579640)

How is there no economic value? Isn't this essentially moon rock?

Moon rocks aren't valuable because they have some special property, they aren't valuable because of exceptional heat resistance or because they repell gravity. They are so valuable because of their scarcity here on earth. People who want to study them only have a very limited supply, short of going up to the moon again and getting more - which is of course inhibitively expensive.

The moon rocks (and the ones found in WA now) are just basalt, a rather un-exciting hard stone made from magma cooling rapidly. Now, the exact conditions that take place make the basic elements within them form into a number of interesting compounds. So, like silica is the main ingredient in sand, clay and quartz, they are all unique and formed through different conditions.

The moon rocks when first analyzed contained three previously unknown compounds. Armalcolite [wikipedia.org] , pyroxferroite [wikipedia.org] and tranquillityite [wikipedia.org] . The first two have since then been discovered on earth, but the third remained elusive until now, when small deposits have been found. As I said before, there isn't anything super special about this compound, it's just that it hasn't ever been found naturally formed on earth till now.

Re:No Value? (0)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38582002)

Don't forget that there is a theory that the moon was once part of Earth. That may explain the presence of these minerals on Terra.

Re:No Value? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38588978)

You seem a little confused on that theory. The theory (which is pretty much accepted by everyone these days) is that a Mars sized object hit the Earth and splashed parts of both the Earth and the object into space.

At one time the Earth had rings! The rings (from the debris that splashed after the impact) gradually came togetther because of gravity and became the moon. So it's part Earth, part some other planet (or possibly a gas giant's moon that was displaced from orbit).

Re:No Value? (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38589226)

Actually, not likely.

While the Giant Impact Theory [wikipedia.org] has good standning, any impact between the two bodies would have entirely liquified both bodies. These sort of minerals would have been utterly obliterated. Basalts are indeed formed from lava, but if you heat them up enough (as a collision like this would have done) they will revert back to lava, so there would be no trace of them that we could find.

As they are made up of fairly common minerals (iron, oxygen, silicon, zirconium and titanium with smaller fractions of yttrium and calcium.), it is simply a case of having the right conditions here on earth, with the right mix of ingredients. It is also a factor that on earth, there is a lot of weathering taking place, constantly breaking down rock. If the conditions had been right for these rocks to form some time in the past, there is a good chance that they have been gobbled back into mantle through techtonics or been broken down by wind, water and ice.

It is possible that material is transferred from one body to another (and this is the basis of theories such as Panspermia [wikipedia.org] , and the moon to earth transfer would be one of the easiest. When an asteroid, comet or some other body impacts the moon (or earth, or other planet) it is possible that debris from the impact is ejected from the impact site with enough force to break the gravitational pull generated by the moon. This material could then find itself captured by the gravity of the earth and fall back down. Larger bits could well survive re-entry, but in these cases, it is much more likely that the samples found on earth would be in VERY small areas and highly concentrated. By that I mean, someone would have to drill directly into the rock that came from the moon to find these materials. They would also be in high density - exactly the same as the moon rocks. In this case, while we have found them in Western Australia, the concentration is very very low, meaning that it is more likely that they were infact formed right here on earth.

Re:No Value? (4, Insightful)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579682)

No, it is an Earth mineral that takes the same form as a mineral found in greater abundance on the Moon. The paper does not suggest that the mineral came from the Moon.

Re:No Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580016)

How is there no economic value? Isn't this essentially moon rock?

Or could be sold as one on eBay.

Is it just me and thousands of others who no longer read and post on Slashdot daily - but did New Corp. buy Slashot and staff it with the people they sacked from the UK paper they closed? Because I'm pretty sure Soulskill used to write the society and page three sections.

Re:No Value? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580116)

Is there a page 3 [page3.com] job available? I'll take it thanks.

Re:No Value? (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38582884)

Is there a page 3 [page3.com] job available? I'll take it thanks.

Job's already taken by APK - not sure it's what you had in mind. Every day it features another goatse.

Re:No Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581052)

It seems to me that if they are rare then they must have 'intrinsic' value. Perhaps we should base our currency on them.

It's been scientifically proven (1)

KuRa_Scvls (932317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579328)

It's been scientifically proven that moon minerals are a great Portal conductor.

The two places I need to paint with this material are the wall in my room and the door of my fridge.

It's called "Cheese". (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579344)

Most earthly deposits are found in the state of Minnesota and the country of Switzerland.

Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579424)

So shoot me, I don't live in the US.

Re:Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579510)

Then stop telling jokes about us.

Jerk.

Re:Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579710)

Then stop telling jokes about us.

Jerk.

Why is it that we non-USians know more about your country than many of you? When you turn 5 (mentally), get someone to explain how dimwitted your comment is and how much you have portrayed your ignorance.

Now, go back to your trailer and your cousin-wife, dumbass.

Re:Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (3, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579798)

Then stop telling jokes about us.

Jerk.

Why is it that we non-USians know more about your country than many of you? When you turn 5 (mentally), get someone to explain how dimwitted your comment is and how much you have portrayed your ignorance.

Now, go back to your trailer and your cousin-wife, dumbass.

Hey, don't knock trailer-trash cousin-wives -- they can be all kinds of hot and dirty.

Re:Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38582528)

Hey, don't knock trailer-trash cousin-wives -- they can be all kinds of hot and dirty.

It's the extra head that does it. No additional brains though - all the more room to fill up with jizz.

Re:Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (1)

Candyban (723804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38585224)

When we tell jokes about US, they are about (E)U.
When you tell jokes about EU, they are about us.

If you don't understand, don't worry, get rid of your principles, education and .... erm ... that third thing ... ooops.

Re:Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (3, Funny)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579732)

So shoot me, I don't live in the US.

Minnesota isn't Texas. We don't shoot people here, we prefer to kill them by waiting for an eternity at a stop-sign waving them through even though we have the right of way.

Re:Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38590618)

I'm from Texas and I'd like to shoot him. Not because he offended me, but because I'm from Texas and we like to fucking shoot things.

Re:Er, Wisconsin, not Minnesota... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581968)

That's ok, Wisconsin and Minnesota are right next to each other and very similar in a lot of ways.

As long you don't confuse our [American] football teams.

That's a hanging offense.

(Captcha: Slayers)

Re:It's called "Cheese". (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581752)

Most earthly deposits are found in the state of Minnesota and the country of Switzerland.

You forgot France, you insensitive curd.

Re:It's called "Cheese". (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38583336)

And the Netherlands. If you count production [wikipedia.org] divided over inhabitants [wikipedia.org] you see we (the Dutch) produce 3.22 times as much cheese per captcha as the USA.
(NL: 732 tons over 16,715,489 people => 0.0438 kg/inhabitant. USA 4,275 tons over 312,890,000 people => 0.0136 kg/inhabitant).

Disclaimer: this metric was created with the purpose of letting the Dutch win it.

Re:It's called "Cheese". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38583768)

Most earthly deposits are found in the state of Minnesota and the country of Switzerland.

You forgot France, you insensitive curd.

He forgot a whole lot of countries [wikipedia.org] and shouldn't even have mention Minnesota, since that place is neither a big producer nor consumer of cheese. Switzerland has a high consumption of cheese, but it is mostly imported. (Not in the wikipedia article, but as I recall, the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway is the top producers of cheese per capita, but (with the exception of Denmark) these countries have very small populations distributed over huge land areas, so the cheese density per land area should be pretty small non the less.)

Re:It's called "Cheese". (1)

DSS11Q13 (1853164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38581864)

Hmm, someone should search Puff Daddy's residence for the missing moon rocks then

Collision? (4, Interesting)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579360)

I wonder if this has anything to do with the theory that Moon was created due to a big collision of Earth with some other celestial body. This theory however is supported by reasoning that in general Moon and Earth have roughly similar composition. Then why tranquillityite is mostly on the Moon, and not Earth. Maybe the general geographical location of this material on Earth (Australia, you say?) would help in reconstructing the collision event, or maybe would lead to conclusion that the collision theory was wrong. Whatever the outcome, we are going to learn something.

Re:Collision? (4, Interesting)

polymeris (902231) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579608)

This is just conjecture, but TFA says Tranquilliyite metamorphes readly to other minerals. The moon, not having plate tectonics, lacks a major source of metamorphism, hence is more likely to keep those minerals in their igneous state.
On the earth, OTOH, by both a lot of metamorphic (tectonics, vulcanism,...) and sedimentary (wind, water, ice,...) agents, the rare Tranquillityite that formed was swiftly converted to other minerals.

As said, this is all just a guess. May be completely wrong.

Re:Collision? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579730)

i delved in vulcanism once, not in vietnam of course.

Re:Collision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579612)

I think we will learn that the idiots don't know unobtainium when they see it!

Re:Collision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38580270)

Duh. Tiamat and Marduk. Marduk was a large comet that smashed through the middle of the young earth, tearing its way towards the sun. Tiamat was a large asteroid or small planetoid the collided with the planet later, occasioning a major pole shift and getting trapped in our pull. Now we call her the moon.

Re:Collision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581042)

I think what we'll learn is that we don't know enough.

Re:Collision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38582000)

They don't mention the material came from the moon.

Re:Collision? (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38583364)

Due to the low chance of a large enough asteroid hitting earth and creating such a big moon I believe another theory: there seems to be a large layer of uranium and othe fissile materials between the mantle and the core of the earth. If it was dense and thick enough to form a huge nuclear explosion millions of years ago the resulting force may have pushed a lot of material in orbit. This material coalesced to form the moon.
Both theories are verry hard to prove, since erosion and plate tektonics have removed the evidence (and the earth had most likely a liquid surface at the time. That removes a lot of evidence quickly)

Re:Collision? (1)

barking incoherently (2512656) | more than 2 years ago | (#38586732)

I think that this idea is quite possible. Given that Western Australia is the most eroded and undisturbed ( Orogeny and the like) section of earth ( the Jack Hills area is where they are finding Zircons that date to 4.4 billions years ago), this idea, as unlikely as it might be to folks here, is kind of exciting me right now.

Re:Collision? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38587610)

I wonder if this has anything to do with the theory that Moon was created due to a big collision of Earth with some other celestial body.

I wonder if there's anyone here who didn't wonder that. Also, I thought that theory was like the theory of evolution, that it's as close to fact as science can get. I also wonder -- an object the size of Mars hitting something a bit smaller than the Earth would surely displace its orbit. Where did the Earth sit before the moon hit it? Was it even in the goldilocks zone? Could life have existed when the moon hit Earth? Is there any math that can figure it out from current orbits, working backwards?

Re:Collision? (1)

barking incoherently (2512656) | more than 2 years ago | (#38587898)

does the date given ( as age of said substance) in the article negate the possibility of collision ? " Geochronology of tranquillityite from sills intruding the Eel Creek Formation, northeastern Pilbara Craton, yields a 207Pb/206Pb age of 1064 ± 14 Ma." i ask because i am not sure i am reading this correctly- this would be about 3 billion years late (4.53 Ga as date of collision of the Earth with Theia) and would place it in the Mesoproterozoic Era ?

The missing moon rock has been recovered! (1)

Sla$hPot (1189603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579400)

This is a total cover up.
Someone got cold feet and thought they got rid of the evidence until some idiot started to analyse a complete bland piece of gray rock.

Good, we can study it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579456)

To make sure it won't affect the foundations of the Wal Marts and bungalows we'll have on the Moon in a few years, thanks to the private space pioneers.

Finally! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579600)

I knew one day we'd find the location where the fake "moon" rocks the moon landing hoaxers used came from.

So... (1)

uberjack (1311219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579662)

why does a moon rock taste better than an Earth rock?

Re:So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579968)

Because it's a little meatier.

Re:So... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38588708)

But it doesn't. Rocks are like pies, and unless you're from kentunky you know that an Earth pie* tastes way better than a Moon Pie.

*Not to be confused with a mud pie

(Fe,Ti,Zr)SiOx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38579714)

I take it not a single person actually read the article.

Anyway, it's a silicate mineral containing iron, titanium, and zirconium. In other words, a pretty typical mineral composition. It's probably only unique either in the proportions of the metals, or a different crystal structure for an otherwise identical earth-mineral.

Re:(Fe,Ti,Zr)SiOx (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579990)

I take it not a single person actually read the article.

And let the facts get in the way of an opinion? Not likely anyway, but we on Slashdot don't like taking chances.

Confused (4, Funny)

AndrewStephens (815287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38579940)

So the moon contains rare earth elements, and now we have rare moon minerals on Earth. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MINDS, EARTH/MOON SYSTEM!

They also found other evidence on the moon (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580230)

It's little talked about, but they found convincing evidence that the cow really did jump over the moon.

Re:They also found other evidence on the moon (2)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38582026)

It's little talked about, but they found convincing evidence that the cow really did jump over the moon.

That's pure lunacy.

Imperial Earth (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580262)

I am eagerly awaiting the discovery of Titanite.

Cave Johnson here! (1)

kenj0418 (230916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38580336)

I say we grind them up mix them into a gel. Once we invent a portal gun, that should come in very handy. Although it'll probably be pure poison.

Re:Cave Johnson here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38583990)

Poison? So this is the part where it kills you, I guess?

Let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38581152)

so, my chances of evolving my pokemons are boosted?

no ecoonomic value (1)

ticktickboom (1054594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38583456)

mostly because none wants to pay for a rock. not because its worthless. thats like me saying an audio cd has no economic value. if i ever heard any good songs, i might buy a cd. but they wont buy a rock, tehy will arrest detain search houses and seize everything till they get what they want. no economic value

Ah Ha! (1)

unitron (5733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38584052)

So now we know that when they faked the moon landing they actually did it in Australia!

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