Why mineral reactions matter

Ralf Halama Dr Ralf Halama has co-authored a study about a novel mineral reaction pathway that involves the formation of an amorphous, non-crystalline phase. The international team of geoscientists from Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and the UK, led by Dr Konrad-Schmolke (University of Gothenburg), investigated metamorphic rocks that act as recorders of processes deep down in the Earth’s interior. Using modern analytical techniques that enabled the researchers to extract chemical and structural information on a nanometre scale, they detected amorphous material in extremely small pores that formed as a consequence of mineral reactions. Their study, published in the latest issue of Nature Communications, demonstrates that amorphous material can play a key role for mineral reactions, enabling fast element transfer and high reaction rates during metamorphism. These mineral dissolution and reprecipitation processes are fundamental for the Earth’s internal dynamics, and they also play a crucial role in everybody’s life, from the production of computer chips to ceramics and mechanical tools.

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