Featured image: A silver Roman Denarius, featuring the likeness of emperor Marcus Aurelius. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Paper: Silver isotope and volatile trace element systematics in galena samples from the Iberian Peninsula and the quest for silver sources of Roman coinage
Authors: Jean Milot; Janne Blichert-Toft; Mariano Ayarzagüena Sanz; Chloé Malod-Dognin; Philippe Télouk; Francis Albarède
The Roman Empire was a superpower thousands of years ago, and with great power comes great (fiscal) responsibilities, including minting the money. To mint silver coins, the Romans needed vast amounts of silver, which historians and archeologists believe originated in the Iberian Peninsula, or present-day Spain and Portugal. However, the geologic origin of that silver is unknown as the depleted mines were abandoned long ago.
Continue reading “Silver Doesn’t Grow on Trees: The Quest for the Ores that Formed Roman Coinage”
Featured Image: A sample of the mineral schreibersite, a possible source of meteoric phosphorus. CC-BY 3.0, via Wikimedia commons.
Paper: Phosphorus mineral evolution and prebiotic chemistry: From minerals to microbes
Authors: Craig R. Walton, Oliver Shorttle, Frances E. Jenner, Helen M. Williams, Joshua Golden, Shaunna M. Morrison, Robert T. Downs, Aubrey Zerkle, Robert M. Hazen, Matthew Pasek
With a swift strike, a match bursts into flame. Life, like the flame, burst into existence almost 4 billion years ago, and as with the sparking of the match, phosphorus was a key ingredient. Phosphorus, element 15, is at the center of energy production in cells, forms cell walls, and provides the backbone for DNA.
Continue reading “Hunting for phosphorus on early Earth”