Australia scientists strike gold in gum trees

2013-10-23 09:18
(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock) (http://www.shutterstock.com)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Australian researchers have found tiny particles of gold hidden inside the leaves of eucalyptus trees, in a discovery they say could help prospectors discover new deposits of the precious metal.

Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) made the find in the resource-rich Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia, which was the site of a major gold rush in the late 1800s.

Geochemist Mel Lintern said it appeared the trees sucked up the gold particles from 30m below the ground through their roots.

"The eucalypt acts as a hydraulic pump - its roots extend tens of metres into the ground and draw up water containing the gold," he said.

"As the gold is likely to be toxic to the plant, it's moved to the leaves and branches where it can be released or shed to the ground."

In research published on Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, the CSIRO said the leaf particles themselves would not trigger a new gold rush as they measure just a fifth the width of a human hair and are visible only through advanced X-ray imaging.

But scientists could use a technique known as "biogeochemical sampling" to give an indication of the presence of gold beneath the surface.

"By sampling and analysing vegetation for traces of minerals, we may get an idea of what's happening below the surface without the need to drill," Lintern said.

"It's a more targeted way of searching for minerals that reduces costs and impact on the environment."

He said the method could also be used to find other metals such as zinc and copper.
Read more on:    environment

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.