[MSA-talk] Mineral name for perovskite-structured (Mg, Fe) silicate?

David Hirsch David.Hirsch at wwu.edu
Tue May 27 10:31:12 EDT 2014

I've just read a news release online about the new Zhang, et al. Science paper "Disproportionation of (Mg,Fe)SiO3 perovskite in Earth's deep lower mantle".  Is there a mineral name for the perovskite-structured (Mg,Fe)SiO3 mineral?  If not, then shouldn't we come up with one?  It seems to me that the name "perovskite" should apply to the CaTiO3 mineral, and that it's wrong to apply it to the isostructural silicate, just as we don't give the same mineral name to halite and galena.  The article title isn't so bad, but when you get news releases that include this kind of thing, then there's a real problem:

"The prevailing theory has been that the majority of the lower mantle is made up of a single ferromagnesian silicate mineral, commonly called perovskite (Mg,Fe)SiO3) defined through its chemistry and structure. It was thought that perovskite didn't change structure over the enormous range of pressures and temperatures spanning the lower mantle"

The release's author here has presumably misinterpreted the article's title to infer that "perovskite" is the name of the mantle mineral, rather than "(Mg,Fe)SiO3 perovskite", indicating a perovskite-structured silicate.

I understand that an official mineral name is not possible, since it cannot be found occurring naturally and fully described, but perhaps if the community decided on a name we could use in lieu of the (to me) troubling "(Mg,Fe)SiO3 perovskite" or worse "perovskite", then there might be a little more clarity and a little less confusion out there, at least among mineralogy students.

Dave Hirsch
Associate Professor
Department of Geology
Western Washington University
alternate email: dhirsch at mac.com<mailto:dhirsch at mac.com>
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