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New mineral, rakovanite, named for John Rakovan, Miami geology faculty

03/23/2011

The rakovanite mineral
John Rakovan, associate professor of geology at Miami University, was recently honored by the naming of a new mineral species, rakovanite, first found in the West Sunday mine of Slick Rock Mining District in San Miguel County, Colo.

The naming of the discovered mineral as rakovanite (IMA 2010-052) was approved by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA) in November 2010. A publication on the structure and crystal chemistry of rakovanite will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Canadian Mineralogist (Kampf et al. 2011).

The name rakovanite honors Rakovan’s research contributions in mineral-water interface geochemistry, crystallography and crystal chemistry. He serves as executive editor of Rocks and Minerals and is a fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America where he serves in several roles including education and outreach.

The structure, chemistry and physical properties of rakovanite were determined by a team of researchers: Tony Kampf of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, John Hughes of the University of Vermont and former professor and dean of the Graduate School at Miami University, Mickey Gunter of University of Idaho, Barbara Nash from the University of Utah and Joe Marty of Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kampf and colleagues were given the right to choose a name for the mineral. Minerals can be named after people, places, organizations and events or they can be named to reflect their composition or physical properties. The proposal for a possible new mineral species must provide information on the chemistry, crystallography, physical and optical properties, and on the geologic setting from which the substance was found.

Rakovanite, Na3{H3[V10O28]}∙ 15H2O, is found as crystals up to one mm in maximum dimension that vary in habit from blocky to prismatic. It is orange with an orange-yellow streak, transparent and displays brittle tenacity. Rakovanite is a member of the pascoite family of minerals and one of several new decavanadate minerals that have been discovered in the West Sunday mines.

“The group of decavanadates are a unique class of inorganic materials with interesting molecular, electronic and structural properties which are of considerable importance in the areas of catalysis, biology, geochemistry and materials science,” said Rakovan.

Rakovanite is a rare mineral that occurs as crystalline crusts on sandstone fractures in the walls of the West Sunday mine, part of a series of connected mines. The Sunday Mine complex is part of the Uravan mineral belt, a zone of uranium-vanadium deposits on the eastern flank of the Colorado Plateau geologic province. The Uravan mineral belt was one of the most productive uranium mining areas in the United States in the early 20th century.

Learn more about the process of naming a mineral here online.

written by Lauren Schwab, news intern

Rakovanite joins hughesite

John Hughes, geology professor emeritus and former dean of the graduate school and associate provost for research at Miami, was honored last year with the naming of the mineral hughesite, for his "life-long contributions to mineral structures, chemistry and classification using X-ray techniques." Hughes, now professor of geology at the University of Vermont, was provost and senior vice president there from 2006-2009.

Researchers at Miami, where Hughes taught and held multiple administrative positions from 1981-2006, submitted a nomination to have vanadium oxide hughesite named after Hughes.

Hughesite was discovered in 2008 in the Sunday Mine in Colorado, and became the newest addition to the approximately 4,500 recognized minerals in the world in 2010. (news from UVM College of Arts and Sciences)

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