Navigation Links
'Nanominerals' influence Earth systems from ocean to atmosphere to biosphere
Date:3/20/2008

The ubiquity of tiny particles of minerals--mineral nanoparticles--in oceans and rivers, atmosphere and soils, and in living cells are providing scientists with new ways of understanding Earth's workings. Our planet's physical, chemical, and biological processes are influenced or driven by the properties of these minerals.

So states a team of researchers from seven universities in a paper published in this week's issue of the journal Science: "Nanominerals, Mineral Nanoparticles, and Earth Systems."

The way in which these infinitesimally small minerals influence Earth's systems is more complex than previously thought, the scientists say. Their work is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"This is an excellent summary of the relevance of natural nanoparticles in the Earth system," said Enriqueta Barrera, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences. "It shows that there is much to be learned about the role of nanominerals, and points to the need for future research."

Minerals have an enormous range of physical and chemical properties due to a wide range of composition and structure, including particle size. Each mineral has a set of specific physical and chemical properties. Nanominerals, however, have one critical difference: a range of physical and chemical properties, depending on their size and shape.

"This difference changes our view of the diversity and complexity of minerals, and how they influence Earth systems," said Michael Hochella of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va.

The role of nanominerals is far-reaching, said Hochella. Nanominerals are widely distributed throughout the atmosphere, oceans, surface and underground waters, and soils, and in most living organisms, even within proteins.

Nanoparticles play an important role in the lives of ocean-dwelling phytoplankton, for example, which remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Phytoplankton growth is limited by iron availability. Iron in the ocean is composed of nanocolloids, nanominerals, and mineral nanoparticles, supplied by rivers, glaciers and deposition from the atmosphere. Nanoscale reactions resulting in the formation of phytoplankton biominerals, such as calcium carbonate, are important influences on oceanic and global carbon cycling.

On land, nanometer-scale hematite catalyzes the oxidation of manganese, resulting in the rapid formation of minerals that absorb heavy metals in water and soils. The rate of oxidation is increased when nanoparticles are present.

Conversely, harmful heavy metals may disperse widely, courtesy of nanominerals. In research at the Clark Fork River Superfund Complex in Montana, Hochella discovered a nanomineral involved in the movement of lead, arsenic, copper, and zinc through hundred of miles of Clark River drainage basin.

Nanominerals can also move radioactive substances. Research at one of the most contaminated nuclear sites in the world, a nuclear waste reprocessing plant in Mayak, Russian, has shown that plutonium travels in local groundwater, carried by mineral nanoparticles.

In the atmosphere, mineral nanoparticles impact heating and cooling. Such particles act as water droplet growth centers, which lead to cloud formation. The size and density of droplets influences solar radiation and cloud longevity, which in turn influence average global temperatures.

"The biogeochemical and ecological impact of natural and synthetic nanomaterials is one of the fastest growing areas of research, with not only vital scientific, but also large environmental, economic, and political consequences," the authors conclude.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Small streams mitigate human influence on coastal ecosystems
2. Dissolved organic matter in the water column may influence coral health
3. Map is first to track global human influences on ocean ecosystems
4. Climate influence on deep sea populations
5. Body weight influenced by thousands of genes
6. MIT: Culture influences brain function
7. It is important to demonstrate the influence of the microenvironment in the process of metastasis
8. Genes influence age-related hearing loss
9. Social standing influences elephant movement
10. Simulating kernel production influences maize model accuracy
11. Heat stress influences low conception of dairy herds
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... -- Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... offering. ... market to grow at a CAGR of 30.37% during the period ... has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs ... growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a ...
(Date:4/6/2017)... 6, 2017 Forecasts by Product ... Readers, by End-Use (Transportation & Logistics, Government & Public ... & Fossil Generation Facility, Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, Business ... Are you looking for a definitive report on ... ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS The ... at a CAGR of 25.76% during the forecast period ... primary factor for the growth of the stem cell ... MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem cell market ... and geography. The stem cell market of the product ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/15/2017)... ... , ... The Conference Forum and The Trout Group ... of upcoming panels and events. The partnership culminates with the 4th Annual IO360° ... York City. , “With our experience in producing the Immuno-Oncology 360° NYC event and ...
(Date:8/14/2017)... ... August 14, 2017 , ... Every year, millions of dollars ... antibody community have recently come together to address this antibody crisis and develop ... , The team at Thermo Fisher Scientific has arranged for ...
(Date:8/11/2017)... Md. , Aug. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... a New York Times article regarding the ... billion, according to Kalorama Information.  The article, ... App for That"  used information from ... Patient Monitoring & Telemedicine Market  (Sleep, Diabetes, ...
(Date:8/11/2017)... ... 11, 2017 , ... “There is an increasing consumer call ... synthetic ingredients,” said Matt Hundt, President of Third Wave Bioactives. “Combining the strong ... know-how of Biorigin will allow us to bring truly novel fermented ingredient technologies ...
Breaking Biology Technology: