It's puny, it's purple, it's Putnisite. So where was the new mineral discovered?

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Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Today we're asking you to dig deep for a quick Geo Quiz. The clues come from a remote area down under. It's a place where a new mineral was recently discovered. It's called Putnisite and it was found on volcanic rock in western Australia. Miners were prospecting for nickel and gold and then one of them noticed some bright pinkish-purple crystals. He sent a sample to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization for analysis. It turned out to be something mineralogists hadn't seen before.

Needless to say, Putnisite is unusual. It's made up of a rare combination of elements: strontium, calcium, chromium and sulfur, carbon oxygen and hydrogen and named after husband and wife mineralogists Andrew and Christine Putnis. Christine Putnis spoke with us from the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna.

Christine Putnis: Well, of course it's an honor to have a mineral named after and We probably didn't think we deserved it but we accepted because it was proposed by people that we know and have worked with in Adelaide in Australia and I'm actually Australian. We have a sample of it. It's a very, very small sample — it's just a couple of millimeters or maybe even less than that. It doesn't grow into big crystals. It's a purple-y pink color and it's pretty, very pretty.

Werman: Now Putnisite joins the list of the 4,000 other known mineral species but don't expect to find it at your local jeweler or new age crystal shop. Christine Putnis again.

Putnis: When we were first asked if they could name it after us, my husband's first question was 'Can I make a ring out of it?' But of course it's not possible to make jewelry out of something that is so soft.

Werman: So Putnisite isn't going to replace that sought after mineral, the diamond, with all its nuances and facets. Putnisite is just tiny and purple. But hey, tiny and purple can be a great combination, right? Before we get to the break, the answer to that Geo Quiz, Putnisite was discovered in a remote area in Australia called the Polar Bear peninsula

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