Fontarnauite, a double salt of sodium and strontium with minor contents of potassium and calcium, is the name of the new mineral discovered by a group of scientists from the Science and Technology Centres of the University of Barcelona (CCiTUB) and the Faculty of Geology. The new compound was found in 2009 on a geological survey carried out in the Emet Borate District (Turkey). Its name pays tribute to Ramon Fontarnau i Griera (1944-2007), who headed the Material Characterization Section of the Science and Technology Centres Services of the UB (today's CCiTUB).
Fontarnauite is the eighth sulphate-borate mineral identified so far. It was found by a research team led by Federico Ortí, professor in the Department of Geochemistry, Petrology and Geological Prospecting of the UB, and Cahit Helvaci, expert from the Dokuz Eylül University (Turkey), in Anatolia, western Turkey, in one of the most important Miocene borate deposits in the world. The new mineral, identified and characterised by considering physical, chemical and crystallographic parameters by researchers from CCiTUB and the Faculty of Geology, was accredited by the Commission on New Minerals Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA). Groups of experts from the University of Maine (United States) and the University of Manitoba (Canada) also collaborated in the process.
Ramon Fontarnau i Griera began his scientific career as a technician at the Electron Microscopy Service of the UB in 1967. Then, he became the person in charge of the first scanning electron microscope available at the UB and in Spain. As coordinator of one of the sections of the Science and Technology Centres Services of the UB (created in 1987), Fontarnau was in charge of some equipment used in the characterization of the new mineral (x-ray diffraction, electronic microscopy and electron microprobe).
The new mineral is presented on 4 February, at 9.30 a.m., in the Aula Magna of the Faculty of Geology of the UB. The presentation of the new mineral and the tribute to Ramon Fontarnau i Griera is chaired by the rector, Dr Dídac Ramírez; the dean of the Faculty of Geology, Lluís Cabrera, and the director of CCiTUB, Dr José Ramon Seoane. At 10 a.m., Dr Mercè Durfort i Coll, Emeritus Professor of Cell Biology from the UB, brings attendants closer to Ramon Fontarnau with the speech "Ramon Fontarnau: amic, científic i tecnòleg," and Dr Javier García Veigas, coordinator of the Scanning Electron Microcopy Unit of the CCiTUB, gives the presentation "Fontarnauita: descoberta i caracterització del nou mineral." Then, Dr Cahit Helvaci, one of the scientists involved in the discovery of fontarnauite, pronounces the plenary lecture "Borate minerals in sedimentary environments."
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