Slice of Pilbara reaches London museum
A 2.6 billion-year-old slice of WA’s geologically wondrous Pilbara region is on display at one of London’s most significant cultural landmarks, the Natural History Museum.
The colourfully layered, 2.5tonne piece of banded iron formation was sourced from Rio Tinto’s Mount Tom Price mine and selected with the help of traditional owners, the Eastern Guruma people.
The rock was diamond cut to shape before being shipped almost 14,000km to London.
It now forms part of the newly refurbished Hintze Hall display, which was due to be opened by Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and Sir David Attenborough on July 14.
BIFs were formed more than three billion years ago when bacteria in oceans began to produce oxygen through photosynthesis.
The oxygen combined with dissolved iron in the sea to form insoluble iron oxide, which separated out of the water and sank to the sea floor.
As it settled, bands of red and grey iron-oxide developed between layers of silica-rich sediment.
Without this process, there may never have been an oxygenated ocean to support the eventual evolution of more complex life on Earth.
A layered piece of Pilbara rock at London’s Natural History Museum.