Earthworm induced mineral weathering: preliminary results

Daniel Carpenter, Mark E. Hodson, Paul Eggleton, Caroline Kirk

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The role of earthworms in mineral weathering was investigated. The minerals anorthite, biotite, olivine, smectite and kaolinite were mixed with a sterilized manure substrate. Two treatments were used: minerals with earthworms and minerals without earthworms. The earthworms were established in mesocosms and left to process the substrates for 1, 2, 4 and 6 months. Four sacrificial replicates were used per time period. Changes in mineralogy were analysed using X-ray diffraction. Weathering of anorthite, biotite, smectite and kaolinite appears to be accelerated by the earthworms. There was evidence for the transformation of smectite to illite and the formation of a new mineral phase from kaolinite. Olivine appears not to be weathered by earthworms. Different minerals also appear to weather at different rates. (c) 2007 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S176-S183
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean journal of soil biology
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007

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