Three New Uranium Minerals Found

Three new uranium minerals are found in old uranium mines in southern Utah. They’re bright, yellow and hard to find.

Leesite, leószilárdite and redcanyonite are three new uranyl minerals discovered growing on the walls of old uranium mines in southern Utah.

1. Though small and barely visible to the naked eye, leesite occurs in bright yellow aggregates of stacked blades or radiating needles up to one millimeter in length. The mineral also forms powdery masses nestled against a backdrop of companion minerals, most notably gypsum.

2. Leószilárdite is pale yellow. A carbonate formed through uranium ore interacting with air, it’s also water soluble. Its most distinctive feature are bladed crystals.

3. Redcanyonite varies in hue from orange to red-orange and the color comes from what chemically makes the mineral new — manganese and ammonium in its structure — and being a sulfate, it is not soluble in water, unlike leószilárdite.

All three specimens represent a small and unique slice of Earth’s crust where human activity spurred the formation of previously unknown minerals.