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The Los Alamos National Laboratory’s principal associate director for Science, Technology and Engineering has been granted the unusual and prestigious honor of having a mineral named after him.
On June 2, the International Mineralogical Association Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification officially added “Terrywallaceite” to its roster of known minerals. Terrywallaceite is an extremely rare silver-based mineral that was discovered in 2005 about 180 miles southeast of Lima, Peru, by William Pinch and characterized by a University of Arizona mineralogy team led by Robert Downs.
The slender, needle-like metallic-black crystals of Terrywallaceite were found in the Julcani Mining District of Peru. Julcani is situated in the Peruvian Andes (average elevation about 13,000 feet above sea level). The area has been mined for silver and gold since colonial times.
The Downs team suggested the name “Terrywallaceite” in honor of Wallace’s long-time work on silver minerals and his service to the mineral-collector community.
Wallace was a professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona and a curator specializing in silver minerals for the university’s mineral museum.
The Carnegie Museum of Natural History honored him in 2002 with the Mineralogical Medal for outstanding contributions in mineralogical preservation, conservation, and education.
Use of the principal associate director’s full name avoids confusion with a mineral known as “wallisite.”
“I am honored and humbled that a group of geoscientists and peers would suggest naming a mineral after me and that the international nomenclature committee would concur,” Wallace said.
“I am quite fortunate to have worked for over 30 years on silver minerals and mineralogy, and I have a keen interest in the silver deposits of the central Andes, so this is a special honor to me.”