Shell formation in marine calcifiers via metastable carbonate phases

Date & time

1–2pm 28 September 2017


Jaeger 1 Seminar Room, RSES


Dorrit Jacob (Macquarie University)

Event series


 Adele Morrison

Perhaps one of the most exciting paradigm changes in mineralogy in the last decade was the discovery of non-classical crystallization pathways and how widely spread they are in biological mineral formation. After initial findings that sea urchin spines form from amorphous calcium carbonate and that this crystallizes stepwise via metastable carbonate phases into the calcite endproduct, we now recognise this formation mechanism in a wide variety of minerals formed by organisms, such as mollusc shells, corals, teeth and bones.  

Latest in this list are foraminifera shells, which, as I show with Transmission Electron Microscopy, form from amorphous calcium carbonate and vaterite before transforming into calcite. This contrasts with the long-standing view that foraminifera precipitate calcite directly from seawater and has important consequences on the geochemical element and isotope signals in the shells.

Updated:  23 July 2018/Responsible Officer:  RSES Webmaster/Page Contact:  RSES Webmaster