Talk:Rare-earth element

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Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

This article is or was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): CalderPatterson, Belangier, Abineaga.m, Peer reviewers: Stephaube.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 07:49, 17 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 6 January 2020 and 7 April 2020. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Zitong Lin1996. Peer reviewers: KaylaCarleton, YilinHuang1004, Dan-is-gniess.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 07:49, 17 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Uses and applications[edit]

It would be interesting to have a paragraph on where rare earths are used to give a bit more context. As it is the article is quite technical, but does not give a good idea of why they are important. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Christian.benesch (talkcontribs) 15:03, 30 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is 2020, and the 2012 comment above still holds weight. A paragraph was added on uses, but the rest of the article treats REE as pollutants that we need to get rid of. REE are essential for the function of Electric car motors, iPhones, military jet engines, batteries, and satellites. One impairment to the German war effort in World War II was the short lifespan of their Jet Engines, because we had a secure supply of REE and the Germans did not. unsigned comment added by nelsoc4 19:03, 4 June 2020 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Now it's 2022 and the above comments are still timely. Case in point, reference 102 was written by an investment manager at the European Investment Bank and provides no direct citations for the allusion that solar panels, solar-charged batteries, or [most] windfarms use REEs. Munchyhunch (talk) 00:22, 22 June 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • Evans, C. H (1996). Episodes from the history of the rare earth elements. ISBN 9780792341017.
  • Saez; Caro (1998-06-01). Rare earths. ISBN 9788489784338.
  • Nordenskiold, B. A. E. (1900). "On the Discovery and Occurrence of Minerals containing Rare Elements". Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. 56: 521. doi:10.1144/GSL.JGS.1900.056.01-04.29.
  • Rancke-Madsen, E. (1975). "The Discovery of an Element". Centaurus. 19 (4): 299. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0498.1975.tb00329.x.
  • Witt, Otto N.; Theel, Walter (1900). "Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Ceriterden". Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft. 33: 1315. doi:10.1002/cber.190003301228.
  • Crell, Lorenz Florenz Friedrich (1788). Chemische Annalen für die Freunde der Naturlehre, Arzneygelahrtheit, Haushaltungskunst und Manufakturen.
  • Chemische Annalen für die Freunde der Naturlehre, Aerznengelartheit, Haushaltungskunde und Manufakturen. 1796.

Appropriateness of mnemonic?[edit]

I find the mnemonic troubling, especially given current affairs coverage in the US relating to campus rape and #DistractinglySexy. However this seems to be attributed to Andrea Sella at UCL. What value does this mnemonic have for the subject, and if it does have value there are at least a dozen variants I can think of that don't suggest all chemists are males who routinely trawling parties looking for drunk European girls to rape. Sounds like something made up to sound witty on a TV show. I like smoothies (talk) 18:41, 30 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Approaching the issue strictly from a policy-based approach, my question is whether a single mention in an interview is sufficient to show that the mnemonic is in widespread use. Unless there are multiple references, we can't verify that it's a common mnemonic. —C.Fred (talk) 18:45, 30 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree with both of you. It's pretty offensive. I'm removing it.-- (talk) 06:26, 1 May 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gadolinium - "magnetostrictive alloys such as Galfenol"[edit]

Table says uses of Gadolinium: "magnetostrictive alloys such as Galfenol". I think Galfenol is using Galium, so maybe that was a source of confusion, but I don't think it uses Gadolinium. There might be some other alloys that are magnetostrictive. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:168:2000:5B:BFF5:CA65:7F9E:4032 (talk) 22:45, 11 August 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks, I have remove that bit. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 06:59, 1 May 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The lede needs a different approach for accessibility. For example, after reading the entire lead, I cannot answer the rather simple question, are these substances solid, liquid or gas? That they are metals is indicative but not dispositive: mercury is a metal and it is a liquid; hydrogen is a metal and it is a gas. The general reader neither knows or cares what the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry is; my General Chemistry textbook defines the rare earth elements and that's plenty good authority. That organization name should be moved into a technical footnote. The second sentence about the actinides is placing a falsehood in one of the most important passages in the article - the actinides are not the lanthanides, and that's the end of the argument. That statement should be moved into the text and placed in a historical footnote.

The second paragraph of the lede is a bare list of the elements. Consider whether in an article about the chemical elements, we'd give a general description, then add a whole paragraph: "Their names are: <list of all 118 or so elements>". The problem is that a bare list conveys no information, and it's a pernicious problem throughout the encyclopedia. The list here is especially superfluous because there's a whole level 2 section which is nothing but that list. We can omit the paragraph with no loss of information or readability.

The abbreviations section is rather garish; the abbreviations can be moved into a technical footnote.

So back to the lede: what do I experience if I have a "gob" of gadolinium on my tabletop (say in a chem lab)? Then again, if I'm digging in my backyard, and come across one of these, what do I see? Instead of a list of names, a paragraph describing one or a few of the commoner rare earths, and their applications, would be far more accessible. Here's what I propose for the first sentence of the lede:

The rare earth elements, also called the rare earth metals or (in context) rare earth oxides, or the lanthanides (though yttrium and scandium are usually included as rare earths) are a set of 17 nearly indistinguishable lustrous silvery-white soft heavy metals. They are distributed thinly through the earth's crust, usually as oxides in minerals and clays containing silicon, iron, and other compounds. They are called "rare" because there are few concentrated or mineable deposits.

Sbalfour (talk) 19:21, 30 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've redrafted the lede a bit in accordance with the above, but it's still quite anemic. It could/should be 4-6 decent paragraphs incorporating at least the following:

  • a physical and chemical description/definition of the substances
  • their names and applications
  • their physical and chemical properties
  • their analytical chemistry, such as atomic numbers, electron shell configurations, valence, and periodic table slots
  • their natural forms and distribution in the earth's crust
  • how they were discovered and named

This is sort of defines the structure of the article itself. Sbalfour (talk) 19:30, 4 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've fixed some previous edit that left the fragment "though yttrium and scandium," in a random place in the lead section. This fix could benefit from examination by someone familiar with the chemical nomenclature involved. David Spector (talk) 15:05, 11 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Abundance of Cerium?[edit]

The lead section (final paragraph) states that Cerium has an abundance of "68 parts per million". However, the overview table lists its abundance as 66.5 ppm. Not much of a difference - but still a difference. Which one is correct? PatricKiwi (talk) 19:11, 16 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Following up: I see that the difference can be explained from the table in the page Abundance of elements in Earth's crust. The 68 ppm figure comes from "Barbalace"; the 66.5 ppm figure comes from the CRC. Would anyone object to changing the number in the lead section (final paragraph) to 66.5 (the CRC number), to make it the same as the overview table? PatricKiwi (talk) 19:17, 16 February 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That seems reasonable.David Spector (talk) 15:06, 11 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Biological Role?[edit]

It is no longer true that the lanthanides have no known biological role. They have been found to be required in the active sites of several specialized enzymes. For instance various lanthanide dependent methanol dehydrogenases have been found (see Ethan801 (talk) 21:13, 25 August 2021 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have added this information to the article, in the lead section. David Spector (talk) 15:17, 11 October 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"In 2019, China supplied between 85% and 95% of the global demand for the 17 rare earth powders, half of them sourced from Myanmar.[53] " - This reference does not mention Myanmar. This comment above was by me, I've now made an account because I want to see what happens with this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:24, 6 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"rare earth"[edit]

There is a sentence about them not actually being rare but if the article even mentions WHY they are called "rare earth" it sure hides it well. Why not have it stated the naming off the topic instead of only trivia like a town one of them were named after? (talk) 13:28, 6 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See the last paragraph in the introduction:
Because of their geochemical properties, rare-earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found concentrated in rare-earth minerals. Consequently, economically exploitable ore deposits are sparse (i.e. "rare").
It should merit some treatment beyond that, though. Mindmatrix 14:34, 6 November 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiki Education assignment: Biogeochemical Cycles[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 11 January 2023 and 21 April 2023. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Hxu459 (article contribs). Peer reviewers: PinkmicrobeLW.

— Assignment last updated by MethanoJen (talk) 01:53, 18 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiki Education assignment: ERTH 4303 Resources of the Earth[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 6 January 2020 and 17 April 2020. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Zitong Lin1996 (article contribs). Peer reviewers: KaylaCarleton, YilinHuang1004, Dan-is-gniess.

— Assignment last updated by Naeim9146 (talk) 21:48, 26 January 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rare earths vs rare-earths[edit]

It seems most of the sources use "rare earths" and not "rare-earths", yet the entire article is written with the hyphen.

Perhaps we need to open a discussion about which style the article should use. (talk) 16:10, 28 July 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The article has been fixed, and hyphens are now only used as modifiers. (talk) 13:44, 8 August 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]