Friday, November 16, 2012

A Look Back…80 years ago: Microbial Carbonates


Although application of new tools to study microbial processes have revealed novel insights into the role of microbes on calcium carbonate precipitation and accumulation of many limestone successions, the role of micro-organisms was postulated long ago.  For example, eighty years ago, Gee reviewed the observations and interpretations of the role of bacterial activity on the character and accumulation of carbonates.  The review suggested that “…the inferences have usually outrun the established facts.”  He surmised that “biological and the chemical aspects of this geological problem can therefore not be considered as distinct from one another,” but that at least in some settings, the biologic component may be the limiting factor.  The study cautioned, however, that “sulphur organisms, with endocellular calcareous granules, are the only bacteria to which the phrase ‘specific precipitating power’ applies….”

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