The name of the El Ali meteorite might not mean anything to the common person who’s interested in astronomy, but it turns out that the space rock is indeed something else. El Ali weighs 15 tonnes. After it was unearthed in Somalia two years ago, researchers in Canada concluded that the rock contains traces of two minerals that were never before seen on Earth, according to The Guardian.
The new minerals in question are elaliite and elkinstantonite.The meteorite could actually hold three minerals that were never before seen on our planet, but further confirmation is needed.
El Ali was found near the town of El Ali
The meteorite received the dub El Ali because it was found near Eli Ali, which is a District located in the central Hiran region of Somalia. A number of roughly 190,000 people live in El Ali.
Doctor Chris Herd, who’s a professor at the University of Alberta’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, explained, as NDTV quotes:
Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, was different than what’s been found before. That’s what makes this exciting: In this particular meteorite you have two officially described minerals that are new to science.
Herd had to consult with Andrew Locock, who’s the head of the electron microprobe laboratory of the university. Herd also explained as The Guardian quotes:
The very first day he did some analyses, he said, ‘You’ve got at least two new minerals in there’,” said Herd. “That was phenomenal. Most of the time it takes a lot more work than that to say there’s a new mineral.
While the elaliite mineral was named after the meteor itself, the term elkinstantonite was inspired by Lindy Elkins-Tanton from the Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative.