Environmental Mineralogy: Microbial Interactions, Anthropogenic Influences, Contaminated Land and Waste Management
The past 10 years or so have seen the emergence of a discipline known as ‘Environmental Mineralogy’. This should be regarded not as a new discipline per se, but as a new application of traditional mineralogy. Mineralogists have always sought to understand the chemical and physical environment under which a particular mineral forms and to determine the arrangement of atoms within that mineral. The field of Environmental Mineralogy asks the same questions in a different context. For example, can minerals assist in the remediation of contaminated soils and waters? Which minerals can potentially be deleterious to, inter alia, buildings, ecology and human health? Which minerals are suitable as containment for waste? How does the biota interact with minerals? Environmental Mineralogy is emerging as a field that seeks to define the roles of minerals in all environmental systems, and to work towards the preservation and restoration of such systems. Environmental Mineralogy is achieving prominence because of increasing concern regarding the environments in which we live. Mineralogists have perceived a gap in our understanding of how minerals behave in the surface environment and a need for innovative,‘green’ solutions to the problems of contamination and waste. However, the emergence of Environmental Mineralogy also owes much to modern analytical technology. Many minerals in the surface environment fall within the clay-grade range and therefore, demand high-resolution systems for analysis. Similarly, trace elements are now detectable at exceptionally low concentrations in a wide variety of matrices. Further, many mineral-environment interactions need to be examined at the atomic scale for a greater understanding of the interactive processes involved. This requires the application of the latest technologies such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, X-ray absorption spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy to name but a few. The aim of this monograph is to provide an up-to-date account of the state of this diverse subject area. With chapters containing a strong review element, it is hoped that this volume will appeal to both researchers and students alike. The volume is arranged in four sections: (1) mineral-microbe interactions; (2) anthropogenic influences on mineral interactions; (3) minerals in contaminated environments; and (4) minerals and waste management. These four sections by no means give exhaustive coverage of the subject area, but communicate some of the most important developments taking place at the present time.
Illustrations of the occurrence and diversity of mineral-microbe interactions involved in weathering of minerals
Published:January 01, 2000
J. Berthelin, C. Leyval, C. Mustin, 2000. "Illustrations of the occurrence and diversity of mineral-microbe interactions involved in weathering of minerals", Environmental Mineralogy: Microbial Interactions, Anthropogenic Influences, Contaminated Land and Waste Management, J. D. Cotter-Howells, L. S. Campbell, E. Valsami-Jones, M. Batchelder
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Microorganisms are widespread in all natural environments where, in order to generate energy to form new cell structures, they oxidize and reduce organic and inorganic materials, and form gaseous, liquid and solid metabolic compounds which they excrete into their environment.
The energetic and chemical activities of microorganisms are involved in the solubilization or fixing or precipitation of inorganic elements, in the weathering of minerals (silicates, phosphates, carbonates, sulphides, oxides) and in the formation of mineral deposits.
Both autotrophic (chemolithotrophic) and heterotrophic (chemo-organotrophic) microorganisms are involved and participate directly (mainly by oxidation-reduction processes) or indirectly (by metabolic products) in the weathering, transformation and evolution of minerals in soils and sediments.
Some examples are provided by: (1) the weathering of layer silicates in the rhizosphere of plants (root environment) as influenced by microorganisms (bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi) associated with the roots; (2) the autotrophic bacteria (Thiobacilli) which solubilize sulphides by oxidation of Fe and S that depend on the contact between bacteria and mineral and of mineral surface properties and electrochemical parameters; and (3) heterotrophic bacteria (Bacilli, Clostridia, etc.) which are able, using the available soil organic matter as source of C and energy, to dissolve ferric oxides (hematite, goethite) by reduction of insoluble ferric iron in soluble ferrous iron with rates depending on mineral element substitution in the oxide structure.
Such examples illustrate the importance, the interest and the diversity of ‘microorganism–mineral interactions’ and allow us to underline different incidences, applications and perspectives of research and development.