In my post on how similar or dissimilar life might be if evolution started over, I observed that much of the environment that life operates within is itself generated by other life. It turns out that goes deeper than I imagined. I knew that things like oxygenated atmosphere and soil were products of life, but it turns out even most minerals are as well.
Early Earth became an engine of mineral production, thanks to the water on its surface, the heat in its deeper layers, and the rock-recycling system of plate tectonics. These, and other physical and chemical processes, combined to form 1,500 different minerals. That’s a sizeable sum to be sure, but today we know of 5,000 different minerals species. What created the remaining 3,500 minerals, which comprise the vast majority of mineral species? The inevitable conclusion – one that has shaken the mineralogical community to its core – is that most minerals two out of three, in fact arise as a result of biological processes.
full article at How life transformed the planet – Robert Hazen – Aeon.
3 thoughts on “How life transformed the planet – Robert Hazen – Aeon”
That’s so cool to think about minerals as species. I’m sure that’s not news to other people, but it’s a different way to cast it for me.
I found it to be a fascinating article, and a powerful reminder of just how much Earth overall, at least its outer layers, is a living organism.
Very interesting, and I am now a subscriber to Aeon.
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