Gems have been popular among humans since they were discovered, as they can enhance the beauty of many items while also serving as status symbols that can show your worth to the world.
Popular gems like topaz, zircon, emerald, and aquamarine are often found in pegmatites. These formations contain may crystalline minerals as well as rare and valuable elements that are used across some industries, including tantalum niobium and lithium, with the latter being an essential component for the manufacturing of batteries.
Previous research has shown that pegmatites appear when magma cools within the Earth, and some of the largest crystals form inside them. A mine found in South Dakota, USA, features spodumene crystals that can reach a weight of 37 tons. Researchers have been fascinated by the mechanics behind the formation of these crystals for a long time.
The size of crystals is tied to cooling time, and for a long time, researchers believed that massive crystals require an extended amount of time to cool and form. However, pegmatites cool at an impressive pace and manage to be some of the largest crystals found on our planet.
During the study, the researchers spent a significant of time gathering key samples. A significant amount of tests was performed to determine the composition of the samples, while a mathematical model was used to convert chemical information into usable growth rates.
The researchers were surprised by the results since the crystals formed at a pace that was considerably faster in comparison to early predictions. At one point, they believed that the numbers might be higher than the real growth rates, but this wasn’t the case, as they were confirmed by national research.
The study offers a wealth of data about the formation of pegmatites, and it has been well-received by the scientific community.