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Moon Rock Mineral Found In Australia

Updated on January 8, 2013

When the Apollo 11 astronauts returned to Earth in July 1969, they brought with them moon rock samples containing a mineral geologists had never seen before. This unusual silicate of iron, silicon, oxygen, titanium, zirconium, and traces of yttrium, uranium, and other rare earth elements was named tranquillityite after the Mare Tranquillitatis - the site of the first moon landing. The mineral had never been seen before in any terrestrial rock, and was believed to be unique to the lunar surface.

That is, until now.

Bootprint of Apollo 11 LM Pilot Buzz Aldrin.
Bootprint of Apollo 11 LM Pilot Buzz Aldrin. | Source

According to a new paper authored by geologist Birger Rasmussen of Curtin University in Bentley, Australia, tranquillityite has been found in igneous rock at six sites in Western Australia. This surprising finding suggests that this formerly lunar mineral may be more common on Earth than scientists previously thought.

The tranquillityite inclusions were found in dikes and sills - volcanic intrusions into existing sedimentary rock - dating back to the Proterozoic and Cambrian ages, some one billion to 500 million years ago. The needle-shaped tranquillityite crystals were smaller than the width of a human hair and were identified by the signature scattering pattern they produced when hit by a blast of electrons.

Although the mineral has no real monetary value, it could be very useful to geologists for the trace amounts of uranium it contains, which can be used for uranium-lead radiometric dating. The samples found by Rasmussen's team were used to precisely date the surrounding sedimentary rocks in which they were found.

This discovery marks the third instance of a lunar mineral later being found in terrestrial sources. The titanium-rich armalcolite and the iron silicate pyroxferroite had previously been thought unique to the Moon when they were first brought back to Earth by the Apollo missions, but have since been found in mines and quarries here on Earth. Tranquillityite had reigned for more than 40 years as the sole lunar mineral that had never been found in terrestrial rocks.

Lead author Rasmussen suggests several reasons for the four-decade delay in finding this ancient mineral. Tranquillityite, with the chemical formula (Fe2+)8Ti3Zr2 Si3O24, is formed under rare conditions during the crystallization of molten rock. It is also unstable over geologic time periods due to water, oxygen, erosion, tectonic activity, and absorption by living organisms.

Another more practical reason it hadn't been found, says Rasmussen, is that geologists weren't really looking for it. While the moon rock samples have been analyzed in excruciating detail over the past 40 years, terrestrial rocks are rarely subjected to the same level of scrutiny. These new findings suggest that this rare moon mineral is not nearly as rare as geologists previously thought.

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    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      and yet others have recreated this effect also, too numerous to name here, you like to research go get your facts straight.

      Is highly skeptical your way of saying narrow minded? Do you believe everything orthodox history would have us believe, are you a conditioned sheep!

      Baa, Baa

      I've noticed you are now censoring your comments are we afraid someone might disagree with you?

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      Oh, I'm not a scientist. Never said I was. A skeptic, yes, but not a scientist. And I'm highly skeptical of a physical phenomenon that only seems to work in one guy's garage.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      A scientist that has never heard of the Hutchinson Effect what kind of scientist are you anyway?

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      and so after one day you are an expert, WOW if you know everything how can you actually learn anything?

    • scottcgruber profile image
      Author

      scottcgruber 5 years ago from USA

      The fact that you use the term "orthodox science" is proof that you don't understand science.

      And yes, there was a Hurricane Erin out in the middle of the Atlantic in 2001. It was hardly a secret - the National Hurricane Center tracked it and issued the usual warnings: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/2001erin.html

      As for the Hutchinson Effect, I'll admit that I'd never heard of it until now. Having now researched it, I understand why - it is complete bollocks: http://www.skepdic.com/hutchisonhoax.html

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 5 years ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Another more practical reason it hadn't been found, says Rasmussen, is that geologists weren't really looking for it.

      That statement alone says it all from Einstein's theories to Darwinism. Since orthodox science simple accepts both as the truth they don't need to look for anything else.

      That is how the public is conditioned to believe in anything by never looking for an alternative explanation.

      Take for instance Hurricane Erin . . . every heard of it? It was 70 miles off the coast of Long Island on 9/11/2001 and yet hardly anyone even knew it was there, why keep it a secret.

      Doesn't the Hutchinson effect occur naturally in Hurricanes and Tornadoes, your obviously a man of science, perhaps you could explain the Hutchinson Effect for us Nutards.

    • Carinae Majoris profile image

      Carinae Majoris 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      I really love that photo of the bootprint. One of the most important and humbling photos ever taken.