Earth's Phosphides in Levant and insights into the source of Archean prebiotic phosphorus

Sci Rep. 2015 Feb 10;5:8355. doi: 10.1038/srep08355.


Natural phosphides--the minerals containing phosphorus in a redox state lower than zero--are common constituents of meteorites but virtually unknown on the Earth. Herein we present the first rich occurrence of iron-nickel phosphides of terrestrial origin. Phosphide-bearing rocks are exposed in three localities in the surroundings of the Dead Sea, Levant: in the northern Negev Desert, Israel and Transjordan Plateau, south of Amman, Jordan. Seven minerals from the ternary Fe-Ni-P system have been identified with five of them, NiP2, Ni5P4, Ni2P, FeP and FeP2, previously unknown in nature. The results of the present study could provide a new insight on the terrestrial origin of natural phosphides--the most likely source of reactive prebiotic phosphorus at the times of the early Earth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't