Blood Ore | by Brian Koberlein



11 August 2014

Raw Minnesota hematite.
Brian Koberlein
Uncooked Minnesota hematite.

Hematite is a reasonably widespread iron oxide mineral. The actual pattern seen above comes from the iron vary of northern Minnesota. It’s about 2.7 billion years previous, and is a sort of hematite generally known as grey hematite. It doesn’t look very grey within the image, because it has been uncovered to air and water since its formation. Sometimes whenever you see hematite, it’s carved and polished in order that it appears like grey metallic stone, however in its uncooked kind its floor is often reddish in shade, which is why additionally it is generally known as “blood ore.”

Hematite bear.
Hematite bear.

In northern Minnesota there are pockets of gray hematite which can be so pure that it was used as a “sweetener” for iron processing. Because it consists of about 70% iron and 30% oxygen, it might be used to lift the temperature of cast-iron with out including contaminating supplies. Hematite was essential to the American metal trade till the late Nineteen Sixties when extra superior iron processing allowed the usage of less expensive taconite, which solely accommodates about 30% iron.

Gray hematite concentrations on Mars.
Grey hematite concentrations on Mars.

As fascinating as this could be, you’re most likely questioning what this all has to do with astronomy. It seems there may be one other planet the place hematite is comparatively widespread. In reality it helps give the planet its reddish shade. What’s fascinating is that grey hematite additionally exists on the floor of Mars. Grey hematite usually kinds within the presence of liquid water. So the presence of grey hematite is an indicator of liquid water in Mars’ previous.

There may be additionally one other fascinating facet of hematite. Within the oldest Minnesota hematite mine there are micro organism that thrive on iron. They don’t want daylight, and so they use oxygen from the ore itself. It’s quite much like situations that seemingly exist beneath the floor of Mars.

In fact simply because such an organism might survive on Mars doesn’t imply that life exists or did exist on Mars. Nevertheless it does present that the intense situations of Mars don’t rule out the potential for Martian life.

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