Microbiological weathering of coarse residue deposit (CRD) kimberlite produced by the Venetia Diamond Mine, Limpopo, South Africa enhanced mineral carbonation relative to untreated material. Cultures of photosynthetically enriched biolm produced maximal carbonation conditions when mixed with kimberlite and incubated under near surface conditions. Interestingly, mineral carbonation also occurred in the dark, under water-saturated conditions. The examination of mineralized biolms in ca. 150 μm- thick-sections using light microscopy, X-ray uorescence microscopy (XFM) and backscatter electron – scanning election microscopy-energy dispersive spectroscopy demonstrated that microbiological weathering aided in producing secondary Ca/Mg carbonates on silicate grain boundaries. Calcium/magnesium sulphate(s) precipitated under vadose conditions demonstrating that evaporites formed upon drying. In this system, mineral carbonation was only observed in regions possessing bacteria, preserved within carbonate as cemented microcolonies. 16S rDNA molecular diversity of bacteria in kimberlite and in natural biolms growing on kimberlite were dominated by Proteobacteria that are active in N, P and S cycling. Photosynthetic enrichment cultures provided with N & P (nutrients) to enhance growth, possessed increased diversity of bacteria, with Proteobacteria re-establishing themselves as the dominant bacterial lineage when incubated under dark, vadose conditions consistent with natural kimberlite. Overall, 16S rDNA analyses revealed that weathered kimberlite hosts a diverse microbiome consistent with soils, metal cycling and hydrocarbon degradation. Enhanced weathering and carbonate-cemented microcolonies demonstrate that microorganisms are key to mineral carbonation of kimberlite.

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