Applied and Economic Aspects of Sabkha Systems — Genesis of Salt, Ore and Hydrocarbon Deposits and Biotechnology
The huge salt reservoirs of the Permian (Zechstein) in Europe have very striking similarities with sabkhas. Furthermore, many of these salt systems are related to petroleum-producing strata and traps.
Recently much interest has focused on marine salt production plants mainly in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Biological factors, and among them almost exclusively those produced and controlled by prokaryotic phototrophic microorganisms, have been found to be most important in the production of large crystal-sized clear and pure salts with as little iron admixture as possible.
Practicians of applied geology have realized that many if not all of the huge or and phosphate deposits of the Precambrian and later periods of Earth history, when initially sedimentary, are at least partially interconnected with environmental conditions typical for present-day sabkhas.
Petroleum geologists and organic geochemists have concluded that many, if not most, of the hydrocarbon and gas-generating systems in the past are related to sabkha-type evaporative ocean margins.
Furthermore, the capacity of many microorganisms to develop very individual osmotic pressure regulation systems, e.g., glycerol, cation pumping, light energy driven membrane potentials (see Chap. 13), has attracted interest of biotechnologists for applications in bioengineering. Several other products and processes of halophilic microorganisms are also of applied interest.
Also several aspects of salt-water agriculture, as an alternative using marine microorganism or salt-walter plants, and the study of soil biology under saline conditions (Mykorrhyza, Rhizobium, etc.) have encountered growing interest. This interest will most probably increase in the near future.
Finally, salt-water microbiology has important aspects in the management of the growing number of desalination plants in semi-arid and arid countries. This concluding chapter thus tries to explain to some extent why the ecology and bio-geochemistry of sabkhas is an important field of research and why biochemical and biotechnological aspects have to be involved into these studies.
KeywordsSalt Deposit Spirulina Platensis Petroleum Geologist Great Salt Lake Hypersaline Environment
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