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Mineral transformation and biomineralisation with stibnite and tetrahedrite
Institution: Institute for Geosciences
Mineralogy Department
Carl-Zeiss-Promenade 10 (Room: 6717)
07745 Jena
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Telephone: +49 (0)3641 948 712
Fax +49 (0)3641 948 702

Felix Yebo Amoako

The transformation of sulphide minerals generates predominantly Fe-rich weathering products which retain the pollutants. These elusive, nanocrystalline, or amorphous secondary phases will be studied extensively by mineralogical (TEM) and microbiological methods. The combination of these analytical methods is aimed at evaluation of the role of microorganisms in the weathering of the sulphides and investigation of the transformation and associated release of the pollutants.

Special attention will be given to the olive-green or yellow powdery masses resulting from the weathering of the mineral tetrahedrite [(Cu,Fe,Ag,Zn,Hg)12(Sb,As)3S13], where extensive mineralogical studies have been or are being carried out (Majzlan et al., 2007) (Figure 1a). These minerals will be identified by electron-microprobe, X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy. The elements identified in both the primary sulphides and the weathered products will be categorised into mobile or immobile elements with the aim of understanding the partitioning of the elements into minerals and aqueous phases. Further mineralogical and geochemical work from this stage will be aimed at the identification of the microorganisms involved and a preliminary assessment of their role in the element mobilisation and immobilisation (Figure 1b).

Highly weathered samples from designated areas in the Czech Republic (Kutná Hora) and possibly Ghana (Ashanti Belt) and Austria (Rotgülden, Salzburger land) are targeted for both mineralogical and microbiological investigations.

  a felx_1                                       b fel_2                 
Photographs of some highly-weathered samples (a) and one isolated microorganism culture (b) under investigation. Samples obtained from the Medieval dumps in the Kaňk deposit near the town of Kutná Hora, Czech Republic.


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