Abstract

Low-magnesium calcite stromatolites and pisoids were found to have precipitated within the leachate collection system piping of a Palm Beach County, Florida, landfill. The stromatolites and pisoids formed in an aphotic and anoxic environment that was at times greatly supersaturated with calcite. The stromatolites are composed of branching cylindrical bundles of concentrically laminated radial fibrous crystals. The pisoids consist of concentric layers of radial fibrous and microcrystalline calcite. Bacteria, likely sulfate reducing, appear to have acted as catalysts for calcite crystal nucleation, and thus the formation of the stromatolites and pisoids. The leachate system stromatolites provide a recent example of stromatolites that formed largely by cement precipitation. By acting as catalysts for calcite nucleation, bacteria may cause more rapid cementation than would have occurred under purely abiotic conditions. Rapid calcite precipitation catalyzed by bacteria has interfered with the operation of the Palm Beach County landfill leachate collection by obstructing pipes and may be an unrecognized problem at other landfill sites.

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