The hypothesis that sulfate inhibits dolomite formation evolved from geochemical studies of porewaters from deep-sea sedimentary sequences and has been tested with hydrothermal experiments. We examined the sulfate inhibition factor using aerobic culture experiments with Virgibacillus marismortui and Halomonas meridiana, two moderately halophilic aerobic bacteria, which metabolize independent of sulfate concentration. The culture experiments were conducted at 25 and 35 °C using variable SO42- concentrations (0, 14, 28 and 56 mM) and demonstrate that halophilic aerobic bacteria mediate direct precipitation of dolomite with or without SO42- in the culture media which simulate dolomite occurrences commonly found under the Earth's surface conditions. Hence, we report that the presence of sulfate does not inhibit dolomite precipitation. Further, we hypothesize that, if sedimentary dolomite is a direct precipitate, as in our low-temperature culture experiments, the kinetic factors involved are likely to be quite different from those governing a dolomite replacement reaction, such as in hydrothermal experiments. Consequently, the occurrence and, presumably, growth of dolomite in SO42--rich aerobic cultures may shed new light on the long-standing Dolomite Problem.
- dumbbell and spheroid crystal morphology
- moderately halophilic aerobic bacteria
- sulfate inhibition model