Recent Biogenic Phosphorite: Concretions in Mollusk Kidneys

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Science  31 Mar 1978:
Vol. 199, Issue 4336, pp. 1431-1433
DOI: 10.1126/science.199.4336.1431


Phosphorite concretions have been detected in the kidneys of two widespread species of mollusks, Mercenaria mercenaria and Argopecten irradians, which have relatively high population densities. These concretions are the first documentation of the direct biogenic formation of phosphorite grains. The concretions are principally amorphous calcium phosphate, which upon being heated yields an x-ray diffraction pattern which is essentially that of chlorapatite. These concretions appear to be a normal formation of the excretory process of mollusks under reproductive, environmental, or pollutant-induced stress. Biogenic production of phosphorite concretions over long periods of time and diagenetic change from amorphous to crystalline structure, coupled with secondary enrichment, may account for the formation of some marine phosphorite desposits which are not easily explained by the chemical precipitation-replacement hypothesis.