Scientists discovered 2 new elements in meteorites in Somalia and Winchcombe, in addition to collecting data reinforcing earth water theory.
Less than 10 meteorites a year are recovered by scientists. Most meteorites fall in the ocean, lots are not found, but the ones we do recover can be packed with important information. This is the case for both of the most recent meteorites recovered this year, one in Somalia, and one in Winchcombe. The Meteorite in Somalia revealed 2 new elements, never before seen on earth, and the meteorite found in Winchcombe bolsters earth water theory.
Canadian researchers call the Somali meteorite “Nightfall”, and although they only found it recently, evidence suggests that it has been there for more than two years. Almost immediately after its discovery, a 70g fragment of the 15 tonne stone was sent to scientists at the University of Alberta, who coined the new elements elaliite and elkinstantonite. In addition to this, scientists say that it is the 9th biggest meteorite to ever reach our planet, and it is made up of almost 90% of iron and nickel.
The importance of this discovery is massive for scientists, explains professor Herd. "Whenever there's a new material that's known, material scientists are interested too because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society," He also adds “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.”
The second meteorite, found in Winchcombe reveals information on earth water theory. Earth water theory is a theory developed by multiple different geochemical studies, theorizing that asteroids are the primary source of earths water. This of course billions of years ago, at the early stages of planet earth’s history. The theory highlighted that young Earth was hot to the point where it would have driven off much of its volatile content, including water. For the Earth to have so much today, 70% of its surface covered by ocean, suggests there must have been a later addition. Some say this could have come from a bombardment of icy comets, but their chemistry is not a great match.
11% of the meteorites weight came from water, which contained very similar ratios of hydrogen atoms to water on earth. This evidence suggests the validity of earth water theory, and might even reveal more information as scientists continue studying the rock.