There are currently over 5,500 known minerals on Earth, with around 100 new minerals being added to the list each year. Most are quite unspectacular in appearance, with crystals too small to be used in jewellery or too rare to be of any economic interest.
Last week, the International Mineralogical Association recognized carmeltazite as a new, distinct mineral. The mineral was named after Mount Carmel where it was found and the elements it contains – Titanium, Aluminum and Zirconium.
Carmeltazite, or “Carmel Sapphire,” a new mineral described from Israel.SHEFA YAMIM
Carmeltazite is found in corundum, an aluminium-oxide, embedded in volcanic rocks mined in the Haifa District in northern Israel. It is a complex zirconium-aluminum-titanium-oxide, with traces of scandium, calcium and magnesium to be found in its crystalline structure. Curiously, the chemical formula resembles allendeite, a mineral identified for the first time in the Allende meteorite, a rocky meteorite that fell February 8, 1969, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Its formation on Earth dates back 65 million years.
Carmeltazite and its hosting corundum most likely formed near the crust-mantle boundary of Earth, at a depth of almost 18 miles. Under high pressure and temperatures, the partially molten rocks released fluids, which reacted to form new minerals.
The corundum crystals, containing the carmeltazite, were then transported through volcanic vents into the upper crust. Volcanoes flooded the area with lava and steam-blast eruption produced thick deposits of volcanic breccia and tuff. Carmeltazite is found as veins almost black to dark green in colour with a metallic lustre in the larger blue sapphire-like crystals, embedded in the volcanic rocks. The largest stone discovered so far has 33.3 carats (0.25 oz).
The crystalline structure of carmeltazite, in a framework of oxygen atoms various metals, like aluminium, magnesium, and zirconium, are embedded. GRIFFIN ET AL. 2018
The mining company Shefa Yamim plans to market the new mineral as “Carmel sapphire.” At the moment, it is not clear how large the deposits of Carmeltazite are. Shefa Yamim considers it possible that more stones are found mining the volcanic rocks of Mount Carmel. As gemstone prices are usually based on their rarity, carmeltazite gemstones could possibly become more expensive than diamonds.
I’m a freelance geologist working mostly in the Eastern Alps. I graduated in 2007 with a project studying how permafrost, that´s frozen soil, is reacting to the more visible recent changes of the alpine environment. READ MORE
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