Study Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

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Researchers from the University of Miami found a surprising link between the Sahara Desert and the Bahama Islands. According to their study, the iron-rich dust from the expansive African desert traveled an astonishing 8,000 kilometers across the Atlantic. This dust played a crucial role in nurturing specialized bacteria, particularly cyanobacteria, which, as marine geologist Peter Swart explains, "need 10 times more iron than other photosynthesizers because they fix atmospheric nitrogen."

The evidence of this connection lies in high concentrations of two trace elements found in Sahara sand, discovered in sediment samples from the sea floor along the Great Bahama Bank. Over the last 100 million years, this process of cyanobacteria using iron to produce calcium carbonate has contributed significantly to the formation and growth of the Bahama Islands.


1- What is the crucial role played by dust in the study?

2- What was found from Sahara's sand in sediment samples?

3- How long did the process of cyanobacteria using iron to produce calcium carbonate contribute to the Bahama Islands' formation?


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Parts of this lesson are based on: An article Voice of America..