Dolomite discovery ends 100-year treasure hunt

Dec 09, 2011
Dolomite discovery ends 100-year treasure hunt
Dolomite has been found inside 'reef building' algae.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The century-old mystery of a missing mineral in coral reefs has been solved by a team from The Australian National University. 

The team, led by Dr. Bradley Opdyke of the Research School of Earth Sciences, has uncovered a hidden stash of the mineral dolomite in around the globe, ending a search that has lasted over 100 years. The discovery was published in November’s Biogeosciences

“For over a century scientists have puzzled over the ‘dolomite problem’ – the mystery surrounding the abundance of dolomite in fossil reefs and its apparent absence from modern reefs,” said Dr. Opdyke. 

“We have discovered that dolomite is in fact present in large quantities in modern coral reefs, but from an unexpected source.” 

The team’s eureka moment came when they found large quantities of dolomite packed inside a ‘reef builder’ species of red , Hydrolithon onkodes. 

“There was dolomite on the reefs all along, but it was hidden within these algae,” said Dr. Opdyke. 

“This species of algae is found in abundance on reefs around the world. The algae work with coral to ‘cement’ the reef structure to withstand the tremendous hydraulic pressure of waves. 

“This is the first discovery of dolomite associated with a living organism.” 

Student Marinda Nash and Dr. Uli Troitzsch made the surprise discovery while investigating the effects of climate change on red algae. 

“The discovery was completely serendipitous – we were working on an unrelated question at the time,” said Dr. Opdyke. “When we confirmed the finding I said to Marinda, ‘This is going to be huge’. It opens up a kaleidoscope of future research topics.” 

Explore further: Global warming 'pause' since 1998 reflects natural fluctuation, study concludes

Provided by Australian National University

4.9 /5 (17 votes)

Related Stories

Scientists find new Australian frog

Jul 26, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new miniature frog species or ‘toadlet’ has been discovered in the resource-rich Pilbara region of Western Australia, an area previously thought to support very few of the amphibians.

Isolated reefs regenerate faster: study

Nov 28, 2011

A recent study published in CSIRO’s Marine & Freshwater Research reveals isolated reefs may have a better ability to regenerate compared to those closer to human activity.

Fish find a suitable homes through noise

Jan 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Noisy neighbors can be desirable – at least if you’re a young reef fish trying to choose a home. New research from the Universities of Auckland and Bristol found that juvenile ...

Recommended for you

Jeju Island is a live volcano, study reveals

8 hours ago

In Jeju, a place emerging as a world-famous vacation spot with natural tourism resources, a recent study revealed a volcanic eruption occurred on the island. The Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral ...

Has Antarctic sea ice expansion been overestimated?

9 hours ago

New research suggests that Antarctic sea ice may not be expanding as fast as previously thought. A team of scientists say much of the increase measured for Southern Hemisphere sea ice could be due to a processing ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Au-Pu
5 / 5 (2) Dec 09, 2011
Like so many other solutions, they are right under our noses, but we are not looking for them in the right manner (i.e. places or directions).