If you were standing in northern Italy looking up at the mountains, the last thing that would come to your mind is that these mountains may have been created by bacteria.

The Dolomite Alps in northern Italy were named after famed French naturalist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu (1750-1801).  He was the first person to describe rock or mineral made up of calcium magnesium carbonate which in better known as dolomite.  Some areas such as the Dolomite Alps have large concentration of dolomite.

Most geologists believe that dolomite forms in places like lakes and lagoons that have high salinity concentrations. But exactly how it forms in these extreme environments has long been a mystery to them.

Now a team of researchers from Cluster of Excellence “The Future Ocean”, the GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, ETH Zurich and the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, Spain have evidence indicating that bacteria play a role in the formation of dolomite.

In a recent press release by the team of researchers, they stated:

In simple laboratory experiments with globally distributed marine bacteria which use sulfur compounds instead of oxygen for energy production (sulfate respiration), the scientists were able to demonstrate the formation of primary dolomite crystals under conditions that prevail today in marine sediments.

The dolomite precipitates exclusively within a mucus matrix, secreted by the bacteria to form biofilms.  Different chemical conditions prevail within the biofilm compared to in the surrounding water. In particular, the alteration of the magnesium to calcium ratio plays an important role. These changes allow for the formation of dolomite crystals.

Evidence of primary dolomite formation by a process as common as microbial sulphate respiration under conditions that currently prevail in the seabed, provides new insights into the reconstruction of fossil dolomite deposits.  Why are large scale deposits from primary dolomite no longer formed at the ocean floor?

One possibility is that massive primary dolomite can form particularly during times when large quantities of organic matter in the seabed are degraded by sulfate-respiring bacteria.  Such conditions exist when the sea water above the seafloor is free of oxygen. In Earth’s history, several such oxygen-free periods have occurred, partly consistent with time periods of intensified dolomite deposition.

I can think of only one such event in earth’s history that would have provided the conditions they described and it happened about 4,360 years ago.  The Genesis Flood would have created the perfect conditions to have laid down huge volumes of dolomite along with many other sedimentary rock layers.  After these layers were laid down, there was still a great deal of tectonic activity going on towards the end of the Flood and afterwards.  These dolomite limestone and sandstone layers were then raised up due to that tectonic activity, creating mountain ranges such as the Dolomite Alps and Limestone Alps in northern Italy.

He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.  You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.  At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.  The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them.  You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. Psalm 104:5-9

Reference

Bacteria Plays Role In Formation Of Dolomite, June 8, 2012.

Biblical Geology: Properly Understanding The Rocks

About the Title: Using easy-to-understand illustrations and terms, geologist Tas Walker shows how the Genesis account of a worldwide Flood gives the best explanation for the rock layers that we see today. If you aren’t convinced now, you will be after hearing this talk! (High School-Adult)

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