What's the Latest Development?
Researchers from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) say they've discovered traces of gold inside the leaves, twigs, and bark of certain eucalyptus trees with the help of the country's synchrotron, which uses X-rays to reveal extremely detailed composition information. Such particles have been found before in the soil around the trees, but the new findings -- published in Nature Communications -- show that they're absorbing them from hitherto-untapped deposits located more than 30 meters (about 100 feet) underground.
What's the Big Idea?
Besides the fact that vegetation analysis of this type could help explorers discover new sources of gold while minimizing the financial cost and environmental impact of excavation, it could also reveal whether plants are sitting atop other mineral deposits, such as iron or copper. CSIRO geochemist Mel Lintern says: "We've found a lot of the easy deposits in Australia and elsewhere in the world as well. Now we are trying to tackle finding these more difficult ones that are buried beneath tens of metres of river sediments and sand dunes. And the trees are providing us with a method to be able to do this."
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