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Abelsonite; A nickel porphyrin mineral

Abelsonite is an organic mineral nickel porphyrin (a group of heterocyclic macrocycle organic compounds) mineral, which has a chemical formula C31H32N4Ni. This mineral was discovered in 1969 in a United States state Utah, by geochemist Philip H. Abelson, so it was named after its discoverer. Porphyrins are generally found in non-crystalline form, and it is the only known crystalline porphyrin compound.

Abelsonite in Pink Colour

Physical Properties

  • Abelsonite is semitransparent, which has colours; pink-purple, dark greyish purple, pale purplish red, or reddish-brown with a pink streak.
  • The mineral has a good cleavage and occurs as thin laths or plates or small aggregates up to 1 cm (0.39 in).
  • The mineral is soluble in benzene and acetone.
  • It is insoluble in water, dilute hydrochloric acid, and dilute nitric acid.
  • It is found in triclinic crystalline form.
  • It has a hardness of 2-3 Mohs Scale.
  • Its specific gravity is 1.4.k

Occurrence and Formation

The mineral is known only from the Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation. It has been known from the Uinta Basin in Utah since its discovery and from the Piceance Basin in Colorado since 1985. Abelsonite occurs in association with albite, analcime, dolomite, mica, orthoclase, pyrite, and quartz.

Abelsonite is a secondary mineral that formed in fractures, vugs, and bedding planes of oil shale. The mineral probably formed from diagenesis of chlorophyll, likely chlorophyll a, which was transported as an aqueous solution into a favorable geologic setting. In 2003, abelsonite was fully synthesized for the first time.


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