Minerals2013, 3(4), 395-411; doi:10.3390/min3040395 - published online 26 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The iron mining regions of Brazil contain thousands of “iron ore caves” (IOCs) that form within Fe(III)-rich deposits. The mechanisms by which these IOCs form remain unclear, but the reductive dissolution of Fe(III) (hydr)oxides by Fe(III) reducing bacteria (FeRB) could provide a microbiological mechanism for their formation. We evaluated the susceptibility of Fe(III) deposits associated with these caves to reduction by the FeRB Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 to test this hypothesis. Canga, an Fe(III)-rich duricrust, contained poorly crystalline Fe(III) phases that were more susceptible to reduction than the Fe(III) (predominantly hematite) associated with banded iron formation (BIF), iron ore, and mine spoil. In all cases, the addition of a humic acid analogue enhanced Fe(III) reduction, presumably by shuttling electrons from S. oneidensis to Fe(III) phases. The particle size and quartz-Si content of the solids appeared to exert control on the rate and extent of Fe(III) reduction by S. oneidensis, with more bioreduction of Fe(III) associated with solid phases containing more quartz. Our results provide evidence that IOCs may be formed by the activities of Fe(III) reducing bacteria (FeRB), and the rate of this formation is dependent on the physicochemical and mineralogical characteristics of the Fe(III) phases of the surrounding rock.
Minerals2013, 3(4), 367-394; doi:10.3390/min3040367 - published online 4 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Microbial communities mediating gold cycling occur on gold grains from (sub)-tropical, (semi)-arid, temperate and subarctic environments. The majority of identified species comprising these biofilms are β-Proteobacteria. Some bacteria, e.g., Cupriavidus metallidurans, Delftia acidovorans and Salmonella typhimurium, have developed biochemical responses to deal with highly toxic gold complexes. These include gold specific sensing and efflux, co-utilization of resistance mechanisms for other metals, and excretion of gold-complex-reducing siderophores that ultimately catalyze the biomineralization of nano-particulate, spheroidal and/or bacteriomorphic gold. In turn, the toxicity of gold complexes fosters the development of specialized biofilms on gold grains, and hence the cycling of gold in surface environments. This was not reported on isoferroplatinum grains under most near-surface environments, due to the lower toxicity of mobile platinum complexes. The discovery of gold-specific microbial responses can now drive the development of geobiological exploration tools, e.g., gold bioindicators and biosensors. Bioindicators employ genetic markers from soils and groundwaters to provide information about gold mineralization processes, while biosensors will allow in-field analyses of gold concentrations in complex sampling media.
Minerals2013, 3(4), 352-366; doi:10.3390/min3040352 - published online 23 October 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Double difference seismic tomography was performed using travel time data from a carbon sequestration site at the Aneth oil field in southeast Utah as part of a Department of Energy initiative on monitoring, verification, and accounting (MVA) of sequestered CO2. A total of 1211 seismic events were recorded from a borehole array consisting of 23 geophones. Artificial velocity models were created to determine the likelihood of detecting a CO2 plume with an unfavorable event and receiver arrangement. In tests involving artificially modeled ray paths through a velocity model, ideal event and receiver arrangements clearly show velocity reductions. When incorporating the unfavorable event and station locations from the Aneth Unit into synthetic models, the ability to detect velocity reductions is greatly diminished. Using the actual, recorded travel times, the Aneth Unit results show differences between a synthetic baseline model and the travel times obtained in the field, but the differences do not clearly indicate a region of injected CO2. MVA accuracy and precision may be improved through the use of a receiver array that provides more comprehensive ray path coverage, and a more detailed baseline velocity model.
Minerals2013, 3(4), 337-351; doi:10.3390/min3040337 - published online 9 October 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The toxic element arsenic (As) occurs widely in solid and liquid mine wastes. Aqueous forms of arsenic are taken up in As-bearing sulfides, arsenides, sulfosalts, oxides, oxyhydroxides, Fe-oxides, -hydroxides, -oxyhydroxides and -sulfates, and Fe-, Ca-Fe- and other arsenates. Although a considerable body of research has demonstrated that microbes play a significant role in the precipitation and dissolution of these As-bearing minerals, and in the alteration of the redox state of As, in natural and simulated mining environments, the molecular-scale mechanisms of these interactions are still not well understood. Further research is required using traditional and novel mineralogical, spectroscopic and microbiological techniques to further advance this field, and to help design remediation schemes.
Minerals2013, 3(3), 318-336; doi:10.3390/min3030318 - published online 23 September 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria are ubiquitous in soils worldwide, possess the ability to transfer electrons outside of their cell membranes, and are capable of respiring with various metal oxides. Reduction of iron oxides is one of the more energetically favorable forms of anaerobic respiration, with a higher energy yield than both sulfate reduction and methanogenesis. As such, this process has significant implications for soil carbon balances, especially in the saturated, carbon-rich soils of the northern latitudes. However, the dynamics of these microbial processes within the context of the greater soil microbiome remain largely unstudied. Previously, we have demonstrated the capability of potentiostatically poised electrodes to mimic the redox potential of iron(III)- and humic acid-compounds and obtain a measure of metal-reducing respiration. Here, we extend this work by utilizing poised electrodes to provide an inexaustable electron acceptor for iron- and humic acid-reducing microbes, and by measuring the effects on both microbial community structure and greenhouse gas emissions. The application of both nonpoised and poised graphite electrodes in peat soils stimulated methane emissions by 15%–43% compared to soils without electrodes. Poised electrodes resulted in higher (13%–24%) methane emissions than the nonpoised electrodes. The stimulation of methane emissions for both nonpoised and poised electrodes correlated with the enrichment of proteobacteria, verrucomicrobia, and bacteroidetes. Here, we demonstrate a tool for precisely manipulating localized redox conditions in situ (via poised electrodes) and for connecting microbial community dynamics with larger ecosystem processes. This work provides a foundation for further studies examining the role of dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria in global biogeochemical cycles.
Minerals2013, 3(3), 304-317; doi:10.3390/min3030304 - published online 10 September 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Rare Earths (RE) have been the focus of much attention in recent years as a consequence of a number of converging factors, prominent among which are: centralization of supply (in China), unique applications in high-end technologies particularly in the low-carbon energy industry, and global demand outstripping availability. Despite this focus, RE supply chain sustainability has not been examined in depth or in any systematic manner. This paper provides an initial review of RE sustainability considerations at present, including current initiatives to understand the research and development needs. The analysis highlights a broad range of areas needing consolidation with future research and calls for collaboration between industry and academia to understand the sustainability considerations of these critical elements in more depth.