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How Does Dolomite Form?

The formation of the mineral dolomite is still puzzling scientists. Researchers from the Cluster of Excellence "The Future Ocean" and GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel together with colleagues from Switzerland and Spain have now shown that bacteria can facilitate the formation of dolomite.

Not only in the Dolomites, but throughout the world dolomite is quite common. More than 90 percent of dolomite is made up of the mineral dolomite. It was first described scientifically in the 18th century. But who would have thought that the formation of this mineral is still not fully understood, although geologists are aware of large deposits of directly formed (primary) dolomite from the past 600 million years. The process of recent primary dolomite formation is restricted to extreme ecosystems such as bacterial mats in highly saline lakes and lagoons. "As these systems are very limited in space, there is an explanation gap for geologists for the widespread presence of fossil dolomite," explains Dr. Stefan Krause, Geomicrobiologist at GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

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