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Allophanic and ferric root-associated stalactites: Biomineralization induced by microbial activity (Galeria da Queimada lava tube, Terceira, Azores)

AuthorsDaza, Raquel CSIC; Bustillo, Mª Ángeles CSIC ORCID
Aluminium silicate
Fe oxi-hydroxides
Filamentous bacteria
Issue Date2015
PublisherCambridge University Press
CitationGeological Magazine 152: 504-520 (2015)
AbstractRoot-associated stalactites (rootsicles) in Galeria da Queimada lava tube have a mineralogical composition and developmental association with microbes that render them unique. Samples were examined by X-ray diffraction, micro-Raman spectrometry and scanning electron microscopy/X-ray energy-dispersive spectroscopy. Three types of rootsicle were defined: incipient; hard (white and red); and black spongy. The incipient rootsicles still contained rotten organic material and showed the beginning of mineralization by allophane. The white hard and black spongy types were also composed of allophane, while the red hard type was composed of hydrous ferric oxi-hydroxide minerals (HFO). The allophane and HFO in the andisol covering the cave roof precipitated out of the dripwater running along the roots to form the studied rootsicles. All three types of rootsicle showed black layers, coatings, spots or patches composed of manganese oxide minerals and, occasionally, hisingerite (iron (III) phyllosilicate). An alternation of organic precipitation caused by filamentous bacteria and inorganic precipitation (the latter facilitated by pH changes in the dripwater and the cave's temperature) built up both the porous and compact rings observed in the white and red hard rootsicles. The largely straight filaments seen in the porous rings of the white hard rootsicles may be indicative of the previous presence of Leptothrix spp., while the helical morphologies seen in the red hard rootsicles may be indicative of that of Gallionella spp. The manganese oxide minerals detected probably formed via microbial activity. This study reflects the important role of filamentous bacteria in rootsicle formation, independent of their mineralogy.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0016756814000491
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
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