- © 2011 by the Mineralogical Society of America
As an essential nutrient and energy source for the growth of microbial organisms, iron is metabolically cycled between reduced and oxidized chemical forms. The resulting flow of electrons is invariably tied to reactions with other redox-sensitive elements, including oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur. Therefore, iron is intimately involved in the geochemistry, mineralogy, and petrology of modern aquatic systems and their associated sediments, particulates, and porewaters. In the geological past, iron played an even greater role in marine geochemistry, as evidenced by the vast deposits of Precambrian iron-rich sediments, the “banded iron formations.” These deposits are now being used as proxies for understanding the chemical composition of the ancient oceans and atmosphere.