|May 16, 2023|
Using AI to find rare minerals
|(Nanowerk News) A machine learning model can predict the locations of minerals on Earth – and potentially other planets – by taking advantage of patterns in mineral associations.|
|Science and industry seek mineral deposits to both better understand the history of our planet and to extract for use in technologies like rechargeable batteries.|
|Pink crystal spodumene. (Image: Robert Lavinsky)|
|Shaunna Morrison, Anirudh Prabhu, and colleagues sought to create a tool for finding occurrences of specific minerals, a task that has long been as much an art as a science, relying on individual experience, along with a healthy dose of luck.|
|The team created a machine learning model that uses data from the Mineral Evolution Database, which includes 295,583 mineral localities of 5,478 mineral species, to predict previously unknown mineral occurrences based on association rules.|
|The authors tested their model by exploring the Tecopa basin in the Mojave Desert, a well-known Mars analog environment. The model was also able to predict the locations of geologically important minerals, including uraninite alteration, rutherfordine, andersonite, and schröckingerite, bayleyite and zippeite.|
|In addition, the model located promising areas for critical rare earth element and lithium minerals, including monazite-(Ce), and allanite-(Ce), and spodumene.|
|Mineral association analysis can be a powerful predictive tool for mineralogists, petrologists, economic geologists, and planetary scientists, according to the authors.|
|The research was published in PNAS Nexus ("Predicting new mineral occurrences and planetary analog environments via mineral association analysis").|
|Source: PNAS Nexus (Note: Content may be edited for style and length)|
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