Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Gypsum


Uncontrolled excess moisture in buildings is a common problem that can lead to changes in fungal communities. In buildings, moisture parameters can be classified by location and include assessments of moisture in the air, at a surface, or within a material. These parameters are not equivalent in dynamic indoor environments, which makes moisture-induced fungal growth in buildings a complex occurrence. In order to determine the circumstances that lead to such growth, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of in situ moisture measurement, the influence of building factors on moisture parameters, and the levels of these moisture parameters that lead to indoor fungal growth. Currently, there are disagreements in the literature on this topic. A literature review was conducted specifically on moisture-induced fungal growth on gypsum drywall. This review revealed that there is no consistent measurement approach used to characterize moisture in laboratory and field studies, with relative humidity measurements being most common. Additionally, many studies identify a critical moisture value, below which fungal growth will not occur. The values defined by relative humidity encompassed the largest range, while those defined by moisture content exhibited the highest variation. Critical values defined by equilibrium relative humidity were most consistent, and this is likely due to equilibrium relative humidity being the most relevant moisture parameter to microbial growth, since it is a reasonable measure of moisture available at surfaces, where fungi often proliferate. Several sources concur that surface moisture, particularly liquid water, is the prominent factor influencing microbial changes and that moisture in the air and within a material are of lesser importance. However, even if surface moisture is assessed, a single critical moisture level to prevent fungal growth cannot be defined, due to a number of factors, including variations in fungal genera and/or species, temperature, and nutrient availability. Despite these complexities, meaningful measurements can still be made to inform fungal growth by making localised, long-term, and continuous measurements of surface moisture. Such an approach will capture variations in a material’s surface moisture, which could provide insight on a number of conditions that could lead to fungal proliferation.

Concepts: Fungus, Water, Measurement, Humidity, Relative humidity, Hygrometer, Gypsum, Drywall


Calcium sulfate minerals such as gypsum play important roles in natural and industrial processes, but their precipitation mechanisms remain largely unexplored. We used time-resolved sample quenching and high-resolution microscopy to demonstrate that gypsum forms via a three-stage process: (i) homogeneous precipitation of nanocrystalline hemihydrate bassanite below its predicted solubility, (ii) self-assembly of bassanite into elongated aggregates co-oriented along their c axis, and (iii) transformation into dihydrate gypsum. These findings indicate that a stable nanocrystalline precursor phase can form below its bulk solubility and that in the CaSO(4) system, the self-assembly of nanoparticles plays a crucial role. Understanding why bassanite forms prior to gypsum can lead to more efficient anti-scaling strategies for water desalination and may help to explain the persistence of CaSO(4) phases in regions of low water activity on Mars.

Concepts: Water, Solubility, Mineral, Sulfur, Sulfate, Desalination, Gypsum, Calcium sulfate


The sulfur cycle influences the respiration of sedimentary organic matter, the oxidation state of the atmosphere and oceans, and the composition of seawater. However, the factors governing the major sulfur fluxes between seawater and sedimentary reservoirs remain incompletely understood. Using macrostratigraphic data, we quantified sulfate evaporite burial fluxes through Phanerozoic time. Approximately half of the modern riverine sulfate flux comes from weathering of recently deposited evaporites. Rates of sulfate burial are unsteady and linked to changes in the area of marine environments suitable for evaporite formation and preservation. By contrast, rates of pyrite burial and weathering are higher, less variable, and largely balanced, highlighting a greater role of the sulfur cycle in regulating atmospheric oxygen.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Water, Mineral, Sulfur, Atmosphere, Gypsum, Evaporite


Due to the contamination of construction and demolition debris (CDD) by gypsum drywall, especially, its sand fraction (CDD sand, CDDS), the sulfate content in CDDS exceeds the posed limit of the maximum amount of sulfate present in building sand (1.73g sulfate per kg of sand for the Netherlands). Therefore, the CDDS cannot be reused for construction. The CDDS has to be washed in order to remove most of the impurities and to obtain the right sulfate content, thus generating a leachate, containing high sulfate and calcium concentrations. This study aimed at developing a biological sulfate reduction system for CDDS leachate treatment and compared three different reactor configurations for the sulfate reduction step: the upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactor, inverse fluidized bed (IFB) reactor and gas lift anaerobic membrane bioreactor (GL-AnMBR). This investigation demonstrated that all three systems can be applied for the treatment of CDDS leachate. The highest sulfate removal efficiency of 75-85% was achieved at a hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 15.5h. A high calcium concentration up to 1000mgL(-1) did not give any adverse effect on the sulfate removal efficiency of the IFB and GL-AnMBR systems.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Concentration, Anaerobic digestion, Fluidized bed, Gypsum, Plaster, Calcium sulfate, Drywall


The Raman imaging method was successfully applied for mapping the distribution of biomolecules (e.g., pigments) associated with cryptoendolithic and hypoendolithic microorganisms, as well as the inorganic host mineral matrix that forms the habitat for the biota. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive study in the field of geomicrobiology based on this technique. The studied microbial ecosystem was located nearly 3000 m above sea level within the driest desert on Earth, the Atacama in Chile. Enhancement of carotenoid Raman signal intensity close to the surface was registered at different areas of endolithic colonization dominated by algae, with cyanobacteria present as well. This is interpreted as an adaptation mechanism to the excessive solar irradiation. On the other hand, cyanobacteria synthesize scytonemin as a passive UV-screening pigment (found at both the hypoendolithic and cryptoendolithic positions). The distribution of the scytonemin Raman signal was mapped simultaneously with the surrounding mineral matrix. Thus, mapping was done of the phototrophic microorganisms in their original microhabitat together with the host rock environment. Important information which was resolved from the Raman imaging dataset of the host rock is about the hydration state of Ca-sulfate, demonstrated on the presence of gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O) and the absence of both anhydrite (CaSO4) and bassanite (CaSO4·1/2H2O). Obtaining combined “in situ” simultaneous information from the geological matrix (inorganic) together with the microbial biomolecules (organic) is discussed and concluded as an important advantage of this technique. We discuss how selection of the laser wavelength (785 and 514.5-nm) influences the Raman imaging results.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Oxygen, Microbiology, Geology, Chile, Atacama Desert, Desert, Gypsum


Calcium sulfate (CS) can be used as an antibiotically impregnated bone substitute in a variety of clinical constellations. Antibiotically loaded bone substitutes find specific application in orthopedic and trauma surgery to prevent or treat bone infections especially in relation to open bone defects. However, its use as a structural bone graft reveals some concerns due to its fast biodegradation. The addition of calcium carbonate and tripalmitin makes CS formulations more resistant to resorption leaving bone time to form during a prolonged degradation process. The aim of the present study was the evaluation of biocompatibility and degradation properties of newly formulated antibiotically impregnated CS preparations. Three different types of CS bone substitute beads were implanted into the tibial metaphysis of rabbits (CS dihydrate with tripalmitin, containing gentamicin (Group A) or vancomycin (Group B); Group C: tobramycin-loaded CS hemihydrate). Examinations were performed by means of x-ray, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and histology after 4, 6, 8 and 12 weeks. Regarding biocompatibility of the formulations, no adverse reactions were observed. Histology showed formation of vital bone cells attached directly to the implanted materials, while no cytotoxic effect in the surrounding of the beads was detected. All CS preparations showed osteogenesis associated to implanted material. Osteoblasts attached directly to the implant surface and revealed osteoid production, osteocytes were found in newly mineralized bone. Group C implants (Osteoset®) were subject to quick degradation within 4 weeks, after 6-8 weeks there were only minor remnants with little osteogenesis demonstrated by histological investigations. Group A implants (Herafill®-G) revealed similar degradation within atleast 12 weeks. In contrast, group B implants (CaSO4-V) were still detectable after 12 weeks with the presence of implant-associated osteogenesis atlatest follow-up. In all of these preparations, giant cells were found during implant degradation on surface and inside of resorption lacunae. None of the analyzed CS preparations triggered contact activation. All implants demonstrated excellent biocompatibility, with implants of Group A and B showing excellent features as osteoconductive and -inductive scaffolds able to improve mechanical stability.

Concepts: Bone, Surgery, Calcium, Calcium carbonate, Group A, Group B, Group C, Gypsum


A lack of written sources is a serious obstacle in the reconstruction of the medieval trade of art and art materials, and in the identification of artists, workshop locations, and trade routes. We use the isotopes of sulfur, oxygen, and strontium (S, O, Sr) present in gypsum alabaster to unambiguously link ancient European source quarries and areas to alabaster artworks produced over five centuries (12th-17th) held by the Louvre museum in Paris and other European and American collections. Three principal alabaster production areas are identified, in central England, northern Spain, and a major, long-lived but little-documented alabaster trade radiating from the French Alps. The related trade routes are mostly fluvial, although terrestrial transport crossing the major river basin borders is also confirmed by historical sources. Our study also identifies recent artwork restoration using Italian alabaster and provides a robust geochemical framework for provenancing, including recognition of restoration and forgeries.

Concepts: Europe, Spain, French language, France, Art, Paris, Gypsum, Louvre


Major changes in atmospheric and ocean chemistry occurred in the Paleoproterozoic Era (2.5-1.6 billion years ago). Increasing oxidation dramatically changed Earth’s surface, but few quantitative constraints exist on this important transition. This study describes the sedimentology, mineralogy, and geochemistry of a two-billion-year-old and ~800 m-thick evaporite succession from the Onega Basin in Russian Karelia. The deposit consists of a basal unit dominated by halite (~100 m) followed by anhydrite-magnesite (~500 m) and dolomite-magnesite (~200 m) dominated units. The evaporite minerals provide a robust constraint that marine sulfate concentrations were at least 10 mmol/kg, representing an oxidant reservoir equivalent to over 20% of the modern ocean-atmosphere oxidizing capacity. These results show that substantial amounts of surface oxidant accumulated during this critical transition in Earth’s oxygenation.

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Redox, Electrochemistry, Mineral, Karelia, Gypsum, Evaporite


The formation pathways of gypsum remain uncertain. Here, using truly in situ and fast time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering, we quantify the four-stage solution-based nucleation and growth of gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O), an important mineral phase on Earth and Mars. The reaction starts through the fast formation of well-defined, primary species of <3 nm in length (stage I), followed in stage II by their arrangement into domains. The variations in volume fractions and electron densities suggest that these fast forming primary species contain Ca-SO4-cores that self-assemble in stage III into large aggregates. Within the aggregates these well-defined primary species start to grow (stage IV), and fully crystalize into gypsum through a structural rearrangement. Our results allow for a quantitative understanding of how natural calcium sulfate deposits may form on Earth and how a terrestrially unstable phase-like bassanite can persist at low-water activities currently dominating the surface of Mars.

Concepts: Cancer staging, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Water, Calcium, Scattering, Gypsum, Calcium sulfate


The aim of the present study was to compare the bioavailability of calcium from 3 mineral waters with different concentrations of minerals with that of milk and a calcium supplement.

Concepts: Water, Magnesium, Calcium, Dietary mineral, Mineral, Calcium carbonate, Gypsum, Dolomite