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Book Chapter

Geochemical Scenarios for the Precipitation of Biomimetic Inorganic Carbonates

By
Juan Manuel García-Ruiz
Juan Manuel García-Ruiz
Laboratorio de Estudios Cristalogrdj?cos. Instiluro Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra. CSIC-Universidad de Granada. Av.uentenrteva s/n, Granada 18002, Spain
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Published:
January 01, 2000

ABSTRACT

The precipitation of carbonate into alkalinc silicate solutions results in the formation of self-assembled crystal aggregates with noncrystallographic morphologies. These precipitates emulate biologically induced mineral textures as well as display forms typical of primitive microfossils. The precipitation behavior varies with pH, i.e., as a function of the species created by dissociation of the silicic acid under alkaline conditions. Calcite single crystals and crystal aggregates precipitated in these media display complex forms derived From the specific inhibition of some crystal faces, and eventually, noncrystallographic shapes such as sheaf-of-wheat with self-organized banding develop. When strontianite and witherite precipitate in these environments at pH higher than 10, their crystal aggregates display in addition very specific morphologies, such as target patterns, scrolls, twisted ribbons, spirals, fingers, etc., with typical sizes ranging from microns to millimeters. The crystallites of the metal carbonate are embedded in a silicate matrix and are co-oriented and parallel to each other, suggesting that both the loci for nucleation and the orientation of the carbonate groups are controlled by the silica phase.

The silica concentration (>250 ppm SiO2), ionic force, and pH values (>8.5) required for the phenomenon to be observed are well within the range of values measured in contemporary alkaline lakes. A number of geological scenarios where the phenomenon could occur have been identified, among which are: a) contemporary lakes and thermal springs associated with alkaline magmatism such as those in the African rift valley; b) Precambrian (particularly Archean) terranes where cherts formed as a result of direct precipitation of silica; and c) a scenario on Earthlike planets where the existence of a silica-rich environment derived From hydrolysis of alkaline rocks is predicted.

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Contents

SEPM Special Publication

Carbonate Sedimentation and Diagenesis in the Evolving Precambrian World

John P. Grotzinger
John P. Grotzinger
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Noel P. James
Noel P. James
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SEPM Society for Sedimentary Geology
Volume
67
ISBN electronic:
9781565761896
Publication date:
January 01, 2000

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