Prof. Fabio Aaron Reis, from the Institute of Physics, published on 23/10 in the magazine Science the article "Deep abiotic weathering of pyrite", together with collaborators from Penn State University (USA) in the field of Geosciences.
This is nothing less than the first * publication in this journal, one of the most prestigious in the world in all areas of science, by a researcher from any UFF unit.
The article analyzes the relationship between the processes of soil erosion and oxidation of the mineral pyrite, the popular 'fool's gold'. This process is important because pyrite is a very common mineral and, when exposed to the atmosphere, its oxidation is partly catalyzed by microorganisms. By analyzing the concentration and state of this mineral in ancient rocks, it is then possible to obtain information about the conditions of the atmosphere over the geological ages, in particular the concentration of oxygen in it, and to make inferences about the existence of life.
The authors analyzed pyrite samples and found that mechanical erosion processes are just as important as oxidation processes. They developed a model that helps determine the conditions in Earth's past in which pyrite could be stable, and the possible role of microorganisms in this oxidation process.
* Not counting works of great collaborations, with hundreds of authors. Two works of this type have already been published in the Science involving UFF researchers, one of whom, the late Professor. Márcia Amaral, was also from the IF.