November 2016: Minerals in the News

Nov 30, 2016

The field of mineralogy and earth sciences is flourishing with discoveries and collection announcements. There is always something new to pique your interest. Here are some of our favorite news stories for November 2016:

Feldspar Sheds Light on the Mohorovičić discontinuity

A study published in Science Daily by Mainak Mookherjee, Assistant Professor of Geology at Florida State University, sheds light on the presence of the Mohorovičić discontinuity by observing how feldspar reacts to changes in pressure.[1] Discovered in 1909 by Andrija Mohorovičić, the Mohorovičić discontinuity is a layer between the Earth’s crust and mantle at around 8 kilometers beneath the ocean basin.[2]

Feldspar is a type of igneous rock made of aluminum, silica, oxygen, and potassium, and it is found in more than half of the Earth’s crust. When minerals are under pressure, they typically become stiffer as they’re forced to compact. Yet, Mookherjee’s studies show that feldspar becomes soft and decomposes into denser materials like quartz under extreme pressures.

According to Mookherjee, this discovery “provides very new insight and a novel way of accounting for the sharp Mohorovičić discontinuity.”[3] By observing how Earth materials are react under extreme conditions, it is possible to gain further insight into deep Earth dynamics.

The Gia Museum Acquires Joel Hauser Mineral Collection

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) received an exceptional donation of 63 ornamental minerals from the collection of Joel Hauser.[4] Many of the minerals in the collection are from highly restricted localities or are no longer in production. The GIA plans to use the minerals as learning tools on mineral formation and lapidary artistry.

The collection has been Joel Hauser’s pride and joy with over 60-years’ worth of ornamental minerals, petrified woods, agates, and geodes.[5] Hauser was also highly regarded as a skilled lapidary who mastered the art of contour polishing.

“His freeform, undulating polishing style adds interest and texture while removing blemishes, without having to grind away more material than necessary. Joel’s expertise, guided by an artistic eye and perspective, revealed the lovely patterns, markings and colors in the minerals,” says Terri Ottaway, GIA’s museum curator.[6]

The donation was made by his wife Barbara Hauser and their four sons to help the GIA fulfill its mission to educate and inspire the public about gemology. Nearly 50 of these minerals will be available for viewing at the GIA’s Carlsbad museum, starting early November.[7]

Fourteen-Year Old Jessica Simonoff Discovers Merelaniite

In 2011, Jessica Simonoff was studying a piece of tanzanite for her internship with mineralogist Mike Wise at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. when she noticed black wire-like structures covering the mineral. When the then fourteen-year old Simonofff showed her observations to Wise, he was surprised to find that he couldn’t identify the wire-like structures either.

After a field of tests in a lab at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, they found that the black wire-like mineral had a crystal structure that contained a never-before-seen combination of molybdenum, sulfur, lead, and other element traces.[8] This led Wise and Simonoff to the conclusion that they’ve discovered an entirely new mineral.[9]

To be accepted as a new mineral, the sample will go through an approval process by the International Mineralogical Association’s (IMA) Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature, and Classification (CNMNC). Scientists from around the world will study the sample for its crystal structure and properties like density, opacity, reflectiveness, hardness, tenacity, and others.

Four-years and several months of intensive testing and deliberation, the CNMNC has acknowledged the sample as a new mineral and has approved the name “Merelaniite”.[10] Simonoff, now eighteen-years old was delighted to hear that her discovery has contributed to science and opened a new door for research.

John Jaszczak, a scientist who helped the CNMNC study the Merelaniite believes other scientists can use this discovery to study naturally occurring crystal structures to synthesize new materials. “It’s new knowledge that adds to the understanding of how our planet works,” he said.[11]


Feel inspired to start your own rare rock and mineral collection? Then look no further! We’ve recently added to our collection of rare rocks and minerals for sale after our shows in Denver. You can also find our other rare rock and mineral collections here.

Also, don’t miss our listings for our rare rock and mineral shows. We’d love to meet with you and talk about the specimens in our collections!


[1] Kathleen H. “FSU geologist explores minerals below Earth’s surface”. Florida State University News.
[2] Hobart K. “Mohorovičić Discontinuity”. Geology.
[3] Ibid.
[4] “GIA Museum Acquires Highlights of the Joel and Barbara Hauser Mineral Collection”. GIA.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] JoAnna W. “Whiskers on Familiar Crystal Revealed as New Mineral”. American Geophysical Union.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.