Life shaped the spectrum of minerals – the influence of living things is most visible in the atmosphere

A third of mineral species would not exist without life.

Yours too your body accumulates minerals in, for example, bones and teeth. As we know from fossils, such accumulations sometimes remain for thousands or even millions of years as they are or replaced by other minerals.

Similarly, many limestone rocks are composed of minerals assembled by marine animals and microbes. However, these examples represent only a few of the effects of life on the rock formations.

A third, or about 1,900 of all known about 5,700 mineral species would not have been born at all without life.

Many mineral species can be formed in several ways, and life could have influenced the birth of about 2,700, or almost half.

This is what US researchers who have spent 15 years gathering knowledge about the earth’s mineral spectrum say in the American Mineralogist magazine.

By far the most important of life’s effects has been on the atmosphere. It was virtually oxygen-free, until the seas began to run rampant with connecting, oxygen-producing microbes, from which plants later evolved.

A fifth of all mineral species, or about 1,100, exist only because atmospheric oxygen participates in the weathering of rocks.

Microbial and along with sea creatures, especially land plants and fungi have fed the mineral spectrum.

Roots and bands of fungi have broken and dissolved rock surfaces and accumulated thick soil mattresses, where, among other things, various clay minerals have been formed from the rock materials. Large ancient forests have been preserved as coal deposits with numerous mineral species.

Human too has done its part. Individually prepared ones are not accepted for the international list of mineral species.

Without profit motive, we have contributed to the birth of 600 minerals.

The tithe would not have been formed at all without us. The majority have appeared as by-products of mining operations.

If you count the intentionally made versions, humanity has produced thousands of new mineral species.

Building materials, semiconductors, metal alloys and artificial gems – perhaps even plastics – can still be identified from the bedrock millions of years from now.

By Editor

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