Carbonate fluorapatite has been synthesized in seawater in an experiment of nearly 10-years duration. The addition of phosphate to seawater whose fluoride concentration had been increased to 7.6 mg/l brought about an initial amorphous phosphate precipitate. After 20 months, a crystalline magnesium phosphate phase developed within the amorphous phosphate. Crystallization of apatite, which occurred during the last 3 years of the experiment, was accompanied by dissolution of the crystalline magnesium phosphate phase. The MgO content of the apatite (1.9 percent) is high in comparison to Tertiary and older apatite but similar to some young apatite; the CO2 content (3.6 percent) is medium, and the fluorine content (2.2 percent) is low but again similar to some young apatite. The hydroxyl ion (OH-) likely fills the need for additional fluorine-position atoms. The mole ratio of Ca plus substituent elements to P plus substituent elements (1.50) is low in comparison to the expected ratio of 1.67. The substitution of the hydronium ion (H3O+) for Ca may account for this difference. The synthesis of apatite in seawater demonstrates that the factor of time overcomes the well known inhibiting effect of magnesium upon the crystallization of apatite. It also implies that given an adequate supply of phosphate, apatite can form in most ocean environments and likely plays a major pan in the control of the phosphate content of seawater. ?? 1984.
Additional publication details
Time and the crystallization of apatite in seawater