"Gold leaf" trees discovered in the Australian outback

Scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have discovered that eucalyptus trees in the Australian outback are drawing up gold particles from deep underground through their root system and depositing the precious metal in their leaves and branches. Rather than being a new source of “gold leaf,” the discovery could provide a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way to uncover valuable gold ore deposits.

Using the science organization’s Maia detector for x-ray elemental imaging at the Australian Synchrotron, the researchers were able to produce images that clearly showed deposits of gold and other metals in the structure of Eucalyptus leaves from the Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia that would have been untraceable using other methods.

“The eucalypt acts as a hydraulic pump – its roots extend tens of meters into the ground and draw up water containing the gold. As the gold is likely to be toxic to the plant, it’s moved to the leaves and branches where it can be released or shed to the ground,” says CSIRO geochemist Dr Mel Lintern.

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Video transcript available here: http://ow.ly/q4BOh

Eucalyptus leaf showing traces of gold
Eucalyptus leaf showing traces of gold – Credit: CSIRO.AU
Gum leaf samples showing traces of manganese
Gum leaf samples showing traces of manganese – Credit: CSIRO.AU
Eucalyptus leaves showing traces of different minerals including gold
Eucalyptus leaves showing traces of different minerals including gold – Credit: CSIRO.AU

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