Goosecreekite – The most unusual mineral name?

What does it look like?

The silicon, aluminium and oxygen framework is shown by the blue, grey and red atoms.  These in goosecreekite trap the calcium (yellow) atoms and water molecules (not shown for clarity).  Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

The silicon, aluminium and oxygen framework is shown by the blue, grey and red atoms. These in goosecreekite trap the calcium (yellow) atoms and water molecules (not shown for clarity). Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

What is it?

It has come to that point in the year when we just have to feature a material because it has a rather cool name. Goosecreekite is a rare zeolite mineral that was first discovered in (you’ve guessed it!) Goose Creek quarry in Virginia, US.

Though it is rare, it is part of a very interesting family of structures known as zeolites. We’ll hope to touch a bit more on these structures before the end of the year – but these are framework materials, made mainly out of silicon, aluminium and oxygen. This very simple building blocks, in fact are what make up most of the crust we walk on, can form into giant cages that trap out elements (like calcium in Goosecreekite). The fact that silicon, aluminium and oxygen can form into a variety of frameworks was first discovered from natural minerals.

But chemist have taken it a step on, and produced a whole range of synthetic zeolite frameworks. There’s now 206 different frameworks discovered and characterised (mainly from powder diffraction). One of the reasons that so many have been discovered is that these frameworks are really useful as molecular sieves, using the framework to filter out materials. Zeolites can be found doing anything from filtering medical-grade oxygen to filtering dirt from your laundry!

Where did the structure come from?

The structure of Goosecreekite was discovered by Rouse and Peacor in 1986 – and you can find the structure in the American mineral database.

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