Winner of the ‘Wonders of Geochemistry’ contest

Winner of the ‘Wonders of Geochemistry’ contest

Congrats to Electra, one of the winners of the EAG geochemical photo contest ‘Wonders of Geochemistry’ to which she submitted the photo ‘The color palette of Dallol’ captured during our second fieldtrip to Dallol, NE Ethiopia (January 2017). Read more about the story behind her photo here: http://blog.eag.eu.com/general/winners-of-the-2017-photo-contest/

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Biomimetic mineral self-organization from silica-rich spring waters

Biomimetic mineral self-organization from silica-rich spring waters

Garcia-Ruiz, J. M.; Nakouzi, E.; Kotopoulou, E.; Tamborrino, L.; Steinbock, O., Biomimetic mineral self-organization from silica-rich spring waters. Sci Adv 2017, 3 (3). Download paper. Purely inorganic reactions of silica, metal carbonates, and metal hydroxides can produce self-organized complex structures that mimic the texture of biominerals, the morphology of primitive organisms, and that catalyze prebiotic reactions. To date, these fascinating structures have only been synthesized using model solutions. We report that mineral self-assembly can be…

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Precipitation and Crystallization Kinetics in Silica Gardens

Precipitation and Crystallization Kinetics in Silica Gardens

Glaab, F.; Rieder, J.; Klein, R.; Choquesillo-Lazarte, D.; Melero-Garcia, E.; Garcia-Ruiz, J. M.; Kunz, W.; Kellermeier, M., Precipitation and Crystallization Kinetics in Silica Gardens. Chemphyschem 2017, 18 (4), 338-345. Download paper. Silica gardens are extraordinary plant‐like structures resulting from the complex interplay of relatively simple inorganic components. Recent work has highlighted that macroscopic self‐assembly is accompanied by the spontaneous formation of considerable chemical gradients, which induce a cascade of coupled dissolution, diffusion, and precipitation processes…

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Field trip to Aqua de Ney

Field trip to Aqua de Ney

From 8th-14th August we carried out a field trip to Aqua de Ney Spring , an unusual spring in northern California. Aqua de Ney has the highest reported silica concentration (>4000 pm) and pH value (~11.9) in a natural spring. We collected water from these springs, measured in situ the pH and ex-situ silica concentration. Then, we performed experiments with these waters finding that they react with metals to form silica biomorphs and silica gardens (metal…

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Summary of main achievements (August 2014-January 2017)

Summary of main achievements (August 2014-January 2017)

Our project is based on the interaction of two main research lines: 1) The fundamental understanding of the phenomenon of mineral self-assembly and, 2) Its relevance to reveal the transition from non-life to life during the Early Earth. We have made the following progress in both fields: Successful field trips to Aqua de Ney alkaline waters (California), Oman ophiolites and their alkaline springs, Dallol hydrothermal system in Ethiopia, and alkaline lakes in the Southern Rift…

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PROMETHEUS Meeting 2017

PROMETHEUS Meeting 2017

From left to right, upper row: Mark van Zuilen, Juanma García Ruiz, Werner Kunz, Luis Gonzalez Ramirez, Cristobal Verdugo, Manolis Giampouras, Alfonso García Caballero, Jaime Gómez, Fermin Otálora, Joaquin Criado, Julian Opel, Marco Montalti, Isaac Rodríguez and Joti Rouillard. Lower row: Jeannette Manzi, Maritza Iveth, Kevin Hagmann, Electra Kotopoulou, Francisca Espinosa. Not in the picture, but also attended the meeting were Angels Canals, Duane Choquesillo, Yadav Brijbhushan, Angel Orte, Jose Manuel Domínguez and Lionel Cervera….

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New paper on mineral self-organization, life detection and origin of life

New paper on mineral self-organization, life detection and origin of life

Our last paper on mineral self-organization, life detection and origin of life has just been published in Science Advances: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/3/e1602285.full. This work is one of the dreams of my life as a scientist. For at least 20 years, I have identified the rare and remote places on the planet where there are silica-rich alkaline waters with which I could do the experiments to produce biomorphs. Thus far, without the help of Prometheus, I had not…

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Local pH oscillations witness autocatalytic self-organization of biomorphic nanostructures

Local pH oscillations witness autocatalytic self-organization of biomorphic nanostructures

M. Montalti, G. Zhang, D. Genovese, J. Morales, M. Kellermeier & J.M. García-Ruiz, Nat Commun. 2017 Feb 16;8:14427. Download paper. Bottom-up self-assembly of simple molecular compounds is a prime pathway to complex materials with interesting structures and functions. Coupled reaction systems are known to spontaneously produce highly ordered patterns, so far observed in soft matter. Here we show that similar phenomena can occur during silica-carbonate crystallization, the emerging order being preserved. The resulting materials, called…

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Teaching High School students at Limuru

Teaching High School students at Limuru

During the first trip to the Rift Valley of the Prometheus Project, I asked my Kenyan contact Patricia Gitari to seek for the possibility to organize an event to transfer high school teachers in Kenya my experience in popularization and teaching of crystallography. She did a great work, and she organized in Limuru, a town near Nairobi, an exceptional event. She was able to attract more than 150 students and teachers from different schools of…

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Field trip to Dallol

Field trip to Dallol

The field trips to Dallol have been successfully performed in January 2016 and January 2017. We have collected samples of liquid, gases, air and air particles, etc… and make numerous in-situ measurements of physical and chemical variables such as pH, temperature, pressure, salinity, conductivity, oxygen, redox, visible spectra, etc… The aim of this project is to perform: A rigorous study of the hydrochemistry of the brines including the analysis of the organic compounds and gases. …

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