Volcanoes cause the most destructive and wonderful events on the planet. But these burning explosions do much more than destroy. They also make.
In a new study, Russian researchers reported the discovery of one such discovery – an unusual mineral that had not been created before it was documented by scientists: the group Petrosite is an interesting, vibrant blue and green crystalline substance.
The mineral is found in the far eastern volcanic wetlands of Russia at the top of the Tolbachik volcano on the Kamarchatka Peninsula.
Tolbachik’s explosive history spans thousands of years, but in recent times two notable events have emerged: the Great Tolbachi Fisher eruption of 1975 and the second follow-up between 2012-2003.
The force of the eruption during the first event tore down numerous cinder cones in the volcanic complex and exposed the rocky terrain as fumarol depots and veins rich in unknown minerals have never been seen anywhere else.
Altogether, the Tolbachian volcanoes were the first to identify 130 types of local minerals, the latest being petrovite, a sulfate mineral that takes the shape of a blue spherical aggregate of table crystals, containing many gaseous inclusions.
The specimen studied here was discovered in 2000, and was stored for analysis near and after the second Cinder cone associated with the 1975 eruption. It may be many days to come, but that analysis has now revealed that these vibrant blue minerals exhibit strange molecular images that have rarely been seen before.
There is an unusual and very rare combination of seven oxygen atoms in the copper atom of the crystal structure of Petrovite, ”explained Stanislav Filatov, a graduate researcher and crystallographer from the University of St. Petersburg.
“Such combinations are characteristic of only two compounds, as well as saranchinite.”
Another group from St. Petersburg, Saranchinite, identified a few years ago, was also exposed to Tolbachik – and, like Petrovite, painted to his right.
In the case of petrovites, the mineral, which is thought to crystallize through direct precipitation from volcanic gas, takes the form of a fine pyroclastic substance as a blue cryptocrystalline crust.
At the chemical level, petrovite represents a new type of crystal structure, although it bears a resemblance to cranchinite, from which it may be produced, presumably.
Significantly, the molecular structure of the petrobite – composed of oxygen atoms, sodium sulfur and copper – effectively demonstrates the porous, interconnected pathways of nature that can enable the transfer of sodium ions through the structure.
Because of that behavior – and if we can replicate the structure of the laboratory – the team thinks it could lead to important scientific applications, enabling potential new ways to develop cathodes for use in batteries and electrical devices.
“Currently, the biggest problem with this use is the conversion of a small amount of the mineral into the crystal structure of the mineral – copper,” says Filatov.
“It can be solved by synthesizing compounds with the same structure as petrocytes in the laboratory.”
The investigation is reported Mineral Magazine.