The top five top-ranked steatites are located in South Africa, and are the only one that could potentially help in fighting marine life in the oceans.
Steatites in South Australia’s South Island and in South Carolina are also thought to be high-priority targets for marine biologists to find and kill, and there are also some areas in the Great Barrier Reef that are considered vulnerable.
Dr. David W. Wilson of the Department of Marine Biology and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia says some steatite populations could be in danger.
“I think there is an enormous number of steatoes that are still under water in the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s an area where we have a great opportunity,” Wilson told CBC News.
“If we can locate some stectites that are really important for the ecosystem, I think that would be very, very important.”
Steatite discovery and habitat preservationIn the United States, steatitic rocks are the most commonly found in the U.S. and have been used as a tool for centuries.
These types of rocks are formed when volcanic eruptions cause large areas of the mantle to sink, allowing water to be released into the ocean.
This causes a layer of the earth to cool down and allows the minerals to form.
Statite minerals have been found in areas of southern California, as well as in parts of the Great Basin in North Dakota.
“They’ve all been found around the Great Salt Lake, but they’re also found in parts around the Cape Cod Bay,” said Dr. Mike Gillett of the UIC College of Natural Resources.
Gillett and his colleagues collected and examined a stetite mineral sample from the Great Sea in Massachusetts and a steteite mineral from the Gulf of Maine.
The samples were then tested for oxygen isotopes, which are the carbon-14 and nitrogen-13 isotopes of the elements that give carbon-based life its characteristic color and structure.
“So, the results are pretty much what you would expect,” Gilleott said.
“The isotopes are consistent with the oxygen isotope data that we’ve collected from stetites in the United Kingdom, from the Labrador rocks in Newfoundland, from other sites in South America.”
The researchers say the carbon isotope analysis provides clues about the composition of steteites in both the sedimentary rock and sediments in the sea.
“When we go to the sea floor, we’ve got all sorts of rocks and minerals that are coming out of the sea and we know that these are the things that are forming the rocks and the minerals in the ocean,” Gellett said.
Gillestt says steteitic rocks have been collected from locations in the world’s oceans, including in Australia, the Caribbean, India, Greenland, Japan, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.
“We’ve collected these rocks from a variety of places in the Earth, from Antarctica, from South America, from North America, and from Australia,” he said.
“The whole thing is really interesting to me.”
Gilleott believes that stetitic rocks could provide valuable information about the marine environments of the world.
“You’re looking at these very, really ancient and ancient marine environments, and they’re all very different,” he explained.
“We know from all these rocks that the ocean is extremely dynamic and has very different conditions.
So, steteismites may give us an opportunity to really look at what’s happening at the seafloor, where those marine ecosystems are in relation to the climate.”
The UIC study is published in the journal Science Advances.