A volcano in Russian has led to the formation of a new mineral that has never before been documented. The team of researchers has named the mineral sulfate ‘petrovite’, with the chemical formula Na10CaCu2(SO4)8. The mineral was found in the volcanic landscape situated in the far east of Russia, atop the Tolbachik volcano in the Kamchatka Peninsula. The volcano is particularly popular because of its volatile history.

The ‘Great Tolbachik Fissure Eruption’ in 1975- 1976 was followed by a smaller eruption in 2012-2013 in two of the most significant eruptions associated with Tolbachik. The first eruption left a wide area surrounding the volcano bare where scientists later discovered fumarole deposits and several unknown minerals. According to the data, as many as 130 minerals have been first discovered at the site of the Tolbachik volcano, with petrovite being the latest.

Petrovite is a blue and porous mineral. Image Credit: University of So Petersburg/Divulgao

The result of the latest study has been published in Mineralogical Magazine and the researchers say that the specimen for petrovite was collected way back in the year 2000. The sample was found near the cinder/ash cone, a structure made by deposits from the volcano’s vent, from the 1975 eruption and saved for future study. Now that the mineral was finally studied, it shows a new kind of molecular structure, as per the study. Stanislav Filatov from St Petersburg University, who is also the lead researcher and crystallographer, said in a press release that the “copper atom in the crystal structure of petrovite has an unusual and very rare coordination of seven oxygen atoms”.

The newly-discovered crystal structure bears resemblance to another mineral called the saranchinaite, which was also found at Tolbachik a few years ago. Petrovite’s molecular framework consists of oxygen atoms, sodium sulphur and copper is also porous in nature. This chemical structure allows the sulphur ions to move in and out of the structure easily. Hence, scientists believe petrovite can be used to invent new ways of developing cathodes for use in batteries and electrical devices.



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