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"Ridiculously rare" gemstones found in Northern Canada

Saturday, April 6th 2019, 4:43 pm - The unique gemstone formed over 1.8 billion years ago

A new study conducted by the University of British Columbia reveals that Baffin Island, Nunavut is home to cobalt-blue spinel, which the study co-author says is "a ridiculously rare gemstone," as reported by CBC News.

The unique geography of Baffin Island allowed the spinel to form 1.8 billion years ago when temperatures of approximately 800°C caused transformations and mixing of mud and magnesium-rich limestone under high pressures.

wiki cc blue spinel

Octahedral crystal of blue spinel (2008). Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Spinel is typically found in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Kenya, and the limited and sporadic occurrences of this gemstone make it highly valued by gemologists and jewellers. Canada is not typically recognized as a source of these rare gemstones, particularly those with such vivid colours, and could be a region of potential interest for mining companies.

The study observes 14 occurrences of spinel on Baffin Island and reports that the geography of the region contains all the right factors that are needed to produce this gemstone. The two cobalt-blue spinel samples were found in rock that was relatively well exposed and did not require extensive digging.

The researchers note that the exposure of the rock and the spinel's location in small areas means that mining would not necessarily leave a negative impact on the local environment. Other gems that have been found in this region include beluga sapphires and lapis lazuli.

With files from CBC News.

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