Gold and platinum are some of the most coveted minerals on Earth. Gold is considered as the pride of Egyptian Pharaohs. So valuable gold was to them that they were buried with it as they thought they would use it to buy their place amongst the gods.
In some places, gold can be used as a substitute for hard currency. Platinum, on the other hand, is one of the rarest metals on Earth and that is the reason why it is so in demand. It is one of the least reactive metals and has a resistance to corrosion even at high temperatures, which makes it ideal for use in laboratory equipment, dentistry equipment among many other purposes.
Studies into the origin of the metals
The uniqueness of the metals has made many suspect that they may not be of this planet, in fact, both platinum and gold came from space.
Recent studies on the origin of these two metals has revealed that all the world’s deposits of Gold and Platinum, came to be after a huge meteor hit the earth over 4 billion years ago.
Did Meteors bring with it some hidden treasures?
During the formation of the Earth, molten rock sunk to the center of the earth and with it took the earth’s only remaining reserves of the precious metals. This means that at some point Earth did not have these two metals until the meteor happened 200 million ago, and changed the Earth’s fortunes immensely.
Estimation of the amount of gold and platinum on Earth
Geologists at the University of Bristol who conducted the study, estimate that the amount of gold and platinum that is currently available can form a layer four meters thick on the earth’s entire surface!
When samples of rock that were present during the planet’s formation was examined, in Greenland, it showed more traces of Tungsten than any other metal meaning that this was the naturally occurring ore at the time. Gold and Platinum came later.
“Extracting the rock samples and analyzing its isotopic composition to the precision required was extremely demanding given the small amount of Tungsten available in rocks.” According to Dr. Matthias Willbord. “Our work shows that most of the precious metals on which our economies and major industrial processes are based have been added to our planet by lucky coincidence when the Earth was hit by about 20 billion tonnes of asteroidal material.”
The study was funded by the Natural Environment Council, The Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
Then how did the metals seamlessly bond with the crust
To assimilate the precious ores into the Earth’s mantle was made possible by gigantic convection processes which also spread the ores to various continents where they are found and mined today.
The amount of these two metals that is currently available from the largest producers is inexhaustible. South Africa, for example, has Gold and Platinum deposits that take care of 80% of the world’s needs, making her the world’s largest producer. Although the metals have been mined for a few hundred years, research shows that only the surface has been scratched. Countries like South Africa will continue meeting the world’s demand for many more hundreds of years to come, thanks to a meteor.