Geochemists have discovered that the cause of disordered complex systems of microchannels in certain minerals of the mica group may be the activity of microorganisms.
This was reported by scientists in PLOS One.
In particular, by chemical analysis of these microtunnels scientists were able to detect traces of fatty acids, which serve as indirect evidence of their biological origin. Most likely, these tunnels “drilled” mushrooms, using a grenade as a source of bivalent iron.
Garnets are a class of silicate minerals the total composition A3B2(SiO4)3 in which a is the divalent ion of metal (e.g., magnesium, calcium, iron, or manganese), and B is a trivalent metal ion (aluminum, iron or chromium). Depending on the type of ions minerals can have different colors (from red to aluminum-containing garnets, green and black), and many of these stones are precious and semi-precious. Moreover, the value of minerals depends on the size, transparency, and the microstructure of a particular sample. One of the reasons of low quality pomegranates can be a complex system of out-of-order microchannels in certain minerals, the exact cause of origin of which still remains unknown.
Pyropes (one of the most valuable minerals of the garnet class) with a complex system of tunnels often disordered can be detected, for example, in Thailand. Previously it was assumed that these channels are entirely abiotic in origin and are formed as a result of physical and chemical processes without the involvement of living organisms. However, by examining these minerals more closely, a group of geologists from Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Thailand, under the leadership of Magnus Ivarsson (Magnus Ivarsson) from the University of southern Denmark have discovered that these tunnels were most likely formed by microorganisms.
The study found in the Northern and Central parts of Thailand pyropes with a complex tunnel structure, the authors analyzed by means of optical and electron microscopy, x-ray tomography, and mass spectrometry. Investigated minerals was a pyropes with small amounts of almandine, spessartine and grossular, in which it was possible to find a complex system of irregular channels with a thickness of 5 to 100 micrometers is as hollow and filled with substance.
The microstructure of a system of tunnels in the grenade, as the thickness of the individual channels may be quite varied: in some cases, the number of linear channels are parallel to each other, in other stones — these channels are highly curved, branched, and do not coincide with each other in direction. The chemical composition of the contents of the tunnels also varies, but most of them were filled with poorly crystallized substance containing oxygen, iron, carbon, magnesium, aluminum, silicon and calcium. Specifically, scientists have noted a high carbon content — up to 40 percent, which indicates the likely content of organic substances. While mass spectrometric analysis of the contents of the channels pointed to the presence of traces of fatty acids.
Scientists suggest that the presence of fatty acids in the canals is the result of the activities of andalites. Such organisms (bacteria, fungi, algae, and sometimes Pets) live inside the minerals, shells, corals and wood and is produced from a mineral inorganic substances. According to the authors, these microorganisms (presumably, some kind of mushrooms) belong to the group of euangelion, which actively penetrate into the interior of rocks forming tunnels that conform in shape to their body. Most likely, the microorganisms used pomegranates as a source of iron ions Fe2+.
According to scientists, most likely, at the initial stage channels formed by the joint action of abiotic and biological processes, but increasing the length of the second tunnel mechanism became dominant. Despite the fact that the results of the morphological and chemical analysis of tunnels in garnets indicates the more likely of biological origin, however, scientists argue that it is too early to make a clear conclusion, and to confirm this hypothesis, further research is needed, especially since no previous data on the biological activity of analiticheskih microorganisms in garnets was not known.