Sean Cate
Sean Cate
April 30, 2024 ·  2 min read

Somalia meteorite turns out to contain two minerals that are not found on Earth

A 4.5 billion-year-old space rock, discovered in Somalia, is the ninth largest ever to be found on Earth, and scientists have discovered two minerals that do not naturally occur on Earth1. The discovery could provide valuable insights into the formation of asteroids and the early solar system, part of a larger project NASA is tackling – the Psyche mission.

The Discovery

The 16.5-ton meteorite was discovered in the deserts of central Somalia. In 2022, pieces of the space rock were sent to the University of Alberta for classification. Studies were conducted by an international team led by Dr. Christopher Herd, a professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University. The research used a combination of techniques from their Electron Microprobe Laboratory.

The Minerals Found 

The two new minerals found in the meteorite are named after the place where it was found, El Ali, and the vice president of the ASU Interplanetary Initiative and principal investigator of NASA’s upcoming Psyche mission, Lindy Elkins-Tanton2. The two minerals are subsequently named elaliite and elkinstantonite. These minerals do not naturally occur on Earth, but they have both been made synthetically before. According to Dr. Herd, discovering these minerals could provide valuable insights into the formation of asteroids.

Implications of the Discovery

The discovery could have practical applications. Herd noted, “Whenever there’s a new material that’s known, material scientists are interested too because of the potential uses in a wide range of things in society.” The rock is currently in China waiting on a potential buyer, but there may be more samples taken to confirm findings later on. 


The discovery of two new minerals in a meteorite found in Somalia is a significant scientific find. The minerals, elaliite and elkinstantonite, are not found on Earth and provide potentially valuable insights into the formation of asteroids and the early solar system – part of the purpose of NASA’s Psyche mission. The discovery highlights the importance of studying these phenomena and could have practical applications in the future. 

Keep Reading: Geologists say a new ocean is opening up in Africa


  1. “Alberta researchers identify new minerals from meteorite found in Somalia” CBC. December 6, 2022
  2. “meteorite found in Somalia turns out to contain two minerals that are not found on Earth” Interesting Engineering. November 29, 2022
  3. “New minerals discovered in massive meteorite may reveal clues to asteroid formation UAL Berta. November 28, 2022.