Fig. Iron sulfide mineral encrustation has preserved the structure of a sulfate bacteria. (Frankel & Bazylinski 2003)
When learning about biomineralization, my imagination started to wander and Im not sure Im back on my feet again – or even if I should land. When looking at the evidence for biomineralization, the direct evidence in form of actually seeing bacteria respire on minerals or seeing Xrays of them using crystals of ferromagnetic minerals as instruments for orientation one can perhaps easily see the process as an oddity. But when you look at the indirect evidence the scale of it all goes through the roof. Suddenly ALL sedimentary minerals, (metals) are possible candidates since the indirect evidence, the bacteriomorphic structures of metals and other organic structures are quite common. Incredibly common really. And from there, moreor less all secondary deposits of metal ore are of bacteral or microbial origin – or at least probably was aided in its formation by microbes.
A lot of speculation of course. But when seeing Banded Iron Formation (BIF) and the scale of those, one cant help start to speculate of just how large the role of microbes are in geology – at least in all forms of ore forming processes outside of the molten magma. One things for sure, we know a lot less than some people think we do and instead of being openly humble about this, some people take the approach of ignoring it. And that kinda makes me loose my humbleness as well…
I actually read an entire “new” paper on hydrothermal ore formation in thermal vents (Kessler 2005) that didnt mention microbes one time despite claiming it was describing the processes going on there. That shows just how much some (very respected!) geologist dont know – or dont care about since its not their “thing”.
Sure, you CAN explain many of the processes abiotically, thats not the point- but since bacteria ARE found in association with the deposits (every time someone bothers too look) and we KNOW that they can form ores, its amazing that some people refuse to aknowledge the importance. At least mentioning the possibilities should be expected!
How can anyone doing research on thermal vents NOT have read at least something about microbes in this environment – I doubt that very much. Its clearly intentional.
If you are going to describe the ore forming processes of a thermal vent and dont even mention bacteria – theres really very litte scientific vallue in your work is there. Its like describing “all there is to know about an apple”, and not mentioning the tree it grows on. Its probably kinda important you know…
Im probably provoke some ppl out there now, but not accepting that microbes probably play a huge role and yet unmapped scale in ore formation is like when geologists 50 years ago refused to acknowledge the tectonical theories.
Hey you old school scientists out there – you will loose this battle because of the simple fact that you are wrong. Resistance is futile. 😛
- Bazylinski, D.A & Frankel R.B. 2003: Biologically Induced Mineralization by Bacteria. Reviews in Mineralogy and Geochemistry 54: 95 – 114.
- Kessler, S.E. 2005: Ore-Forming Fluids. Elements 1, 13-18.
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