Michigan Tech News

New Mineral Named for Seaman Museum Curator

Last Modified 10:47 AM on Wed Feb 29, 2012

By Jennifer Donovan

February 29, 2012—

A new mineral discovered in the Mammoth-St. Anthony mine in Arizona has been named georgerobinsonite. The mineral is named after George W. Robinson, professor of mineralogy and curator of Michigan Tech's A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum. It is a lead chromate—a salt of chromic acid—that occurs as minute, transparent, orange-red crystals on cerussite, another lead carbonate and secondary lead mineral.

The publication Mineral News reported on the newly named mineral in its February 2012 issue.

A team of Canadian scientists discovered the new mineral and reported on it in the October 2011 issue of the journal The Canadian Mineralogist. They decided to name it for Robinson because "George is a prominent curator who has contributed a lot to the mineral community," said Frank Hawthorne, corresponding author on the journal article and a professor at the University of Manitoba. Hawthorne and the journal article’s other authors got to know Robinson during his 14 years as curator of the Canadian Museum of Nature, where he worked before coming to Michigan Tech.

It is a convention in the profession not to name new minerals for their discoverers, Hawthorne explained. A description of the new mineral and its proposed name is submitted to a committee of the International Mineralogical Association, which must validate the description of the find as a unique mineral and approve the recommended name. The IMA has approved naming the new mineral georgerobinsonite.

"It's a real honor," said Robinson, who also said the naming came as a complete surprise to him. "It's like a chemist having a new element named after him. I guess it's in recognition of my long career as a mineralogist and a curator."  

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