Newly Discovered Mineral in UK | Kernowite

A new spieces of mineral is said to has been discovered in Uk recently. It is known from a single location. It is hard to find a new mineral in Uk. If it happens, it happens once in 3 to 4 years. The new spieces of mineral is kind of a rare.

A small rock sample was collected from The Cornwall mine. It was turned out to be entirly new spieces of mineral around 220 years ago. Mostly new minerals are smallest in size. This one is in a nice sale and size.

Mike Rumsey with his colleagues at the NHM with some collaborators from Slovakia and the Diamond Lightsource in Harwell, Oxford, initiated the investigation about the mineral. Mike is a Principal Curator of Minerals at the Museum.

'I was investigating a mineral called liroconite so we could curate it properly, but also because it's my favourite mineral!’ explains Mike. 'Liroconite is this beautiful, gorgeous bright blue mineral that comes from Cornwall and I was trying to understand why its colour varies from bright teal-blue all the way to a dark emerald green.

'It turns out that the darkest green samples are sufficiently chemically different to the blue's that we, as mineralogists, would define it as a new species.'

The governing body has approved the new description for the new mineral spieces.  The name of new spieces of mineral is " kernowite". It will be published in Mineralogical Magazine in the new year. This magazine is a kind of a journal which was started back in the UK in 1876 with founders from the old BM(NH).

'Like other branches of natural sciences, minerals and rocks were organised by early scientists in a way that allowed people to recognise connections and links between them,' says Mike. 'The term species in the life sciences really gained traction thanks to the work of Linnaeus.

'He also included the mineral kingdom in his classifications, so minerals ended up with some of the same language for their descriptions. Other terms like genus have not made it through though, as minerals don't really have a strongly hierarchical structure in their organisation, although that's something being discussed by scientists currently.'

For getting new spieces, a title, the mineral must meet some defined specific criteria. For example, what is chemistry of a new mineral? How atoms are arranged in 3 dimensional space. How atoms are repeated in arrangements to form a crystal. Which is called " crystal structure". 

'In the crystal structure of liroconite, one of the positions where you can put an atom can contain either aluminium or iron,' explains Mike. 'For liroconite, the position is dominantly filled with aluminium and the physical crystal ends up being blue.

'For the new mineral kernowite the position is instead dominantly filled with iron and the result is a green crystal. We think that the more iron the darker the green, but that still needs some more work and more samples to confirm. Both minerals have exactly the same crystal structure meaning that all the atoms are in the same positions, it is just the chemical composition that varies.'

Every year, refund 100 new mineral spieces. Especially in case of UK, it is extremely rare. There comes any new news oncein 3 to 4 year about any new findings. The new mineral is Cornwall. It's name is given as " Ketnowite' after Kernow which is the Cornish word for Cornwall.

'Based on it's mining history Cornwall is a world UNESCO heritage site known around the world for the discovery for many new minerals,' says Mike. 'However, a lot of these discoveries happened over 100 years go when the mines were still active, so the discovery of a new mineral from Cornwall, particularly one that related to the regions most famous mineral, is really quite amazing.'

The mind has highly prized minerals "lirconite"The which the collectors have paid in high price. 

'Most liroconite comes from this place called Wheal Gorland,' explains Mike. 'The mine was used between around 1790 and 1909, but it has been demolished now. There is a housing estate on it and there is nothing left. It’s an extinct locality, we can never go back.'

'What we've got is a bit like a little time capsule,' says Mike. 'The fact that this sample was preserved in a museum means that we can do this kind of research because we'd never be able to go back and collect any more.    

What is a mineral?

A mineral is a chemical substance naturally occurring and formed by geological process.

Back to blog

Leave a comment