Geochemistry of some manganese nodules

2019-07-16T08:51:38Z (GMT) by John Young Buchanan
The manganese nodules occur in greater or less quantity all over the ocean-bed, and most abundantly in the Pacific. They occur in all sizes, from minute grains to masses of a pound weight, and even greater, and form nodular concretions of concentric shells, round a nucleus, which is very frequently a piece of pumice or a shark's tooth. Their outside has a peculiar and very characteristic mammillated surface, which enables them to be identified at a glance. When freshly brought up they are very soft, being easily scraped to powder with a knife. They gradually get harder on exposure to the air. The powder, heated in a closed tube, gives out water which re-acts alkaline, and has an empyreumatic odour. Heated with strong hydrochloric acid, it liberates abundance of chlorine, and the residue which remains is white, consisting of silica, clay, and sand, the sand being the same as is found in the bottom mud from the same locality. Their composition varies greatly, different nodules containing different quantities of mechanically admixed mud, and the number of different elements found in them is very large. Copper, iron, cobalt, nickel, manganese, alumina, lime, magnesia, silica, and phosphoric acid have been detected in a large number; but I have not as yet been able to make a complete analysis of any of them. I have, however, made a few determinations of the most important component substances. For this purpose the outside and densest layers of the nodules were selected, and portions of them were pulverised and dried for ten or twelve hours at 140° C. The amount of chlorine liberated on treatment with hydrochloric acid was determined by Bunsen's method, and the iron was determined by titration with stannous chloride. The samples analysed were from four different localities. The oceanic nodules analysed come from the Challenger expedition (1872-1876). It is historically the first set of geochemistry measurements ever published in the literature about manganese nodules from the deep sea.

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