Scientists found gold in leaves of Eucalyptus trees in the Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia. Gold particles are from the earth via their root system and depositing it their leaves and branches. Watch the video…
Images © CSIRO
Scientists from CSIRO made the discovery and have published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
The Eucalypt acts as a hydraulic pump – its roots extend tens of metres into the ground and draw up water containing the gold.
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.
CSIRO geochemist Dr Mel Lintern, said:
“The leaves could be used in combination with other tools as a more cost effective and environmentally friendly exploration technique.
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. It’s a more targeted way of searching for minerals that reduces costs and impact on the environment.
Eucalyptus trees are so common that this technique could be widely applied across Australia. It could also be used to find other metals such as zinc and copper.
Principal scientist at the Australian Synchrotron Dr David Paterson, said:
“Our advanced x-ray imaging enabled the researchers to examine the leaves and produce clear images of the traces of gold and other metals, nestled within their structure.
Before enthusiasts rush to prospect this gold from the trees or even the leaf litter, you need to know that these are tiny nuggets, which are about one-fifth the diameter of a human hair and generally invisible by other techniques and equipment.”