Missing element Niobium researched by University of Cologne

Scientists at the University of Cologne and the University of Bonn show that the rare metal niobium has already migrated to the metallic core of the asteroid. By colliding with asteroids, the Earth has grown to its present size more than 4.5 billion years ago.

 Publication in “Nature Geoscience”.

Considerable amounts of the rare metal niobium, which would actually have to be completely concentrated in the outer silicate shell of the earth, have disappeared. The riddle of the missing niobium on earth is now solved. Researchers from the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy in Cologne and the Steinmann Institute in Bonn carried out extremely accurate measurements of the levels of niobium in meteorite fragments from the asteroid belt.

“The missing niobium is located in the metal core of the earth, at a depth of more than 2,900 kilometers,” says Geochemist Carsten Münker from Cologne. “But we now know through our investigations that it has already migrated into the metal core in the asteroids,” adds his colleague Raul Fonseca from Bonn.