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Volcanic soil remineralization

Soil remineralization is becoming increasingly popular due to its potential to reduce the global soil mineral depletion problem. Could the volcanic remineralization of soil be a solution?

Active volcanoes carry minerals from deep underground and deposit them as part of the lava upon eruptions, which then hardens into igneous rock, weathering and depositing the nutrients back into the soil over time. Volcanic plumes also scatter minerals and much-needed trace minerals around the globe.

Igneous or magmatic rock formations are especially favorable for remineralization applications due to their fertile soil conditions.

A Caribbean Island’s Volcanic Ash Could Enrich Another Island’s Soil

In the Caribbean, two islands face economic and agricultural challenges. The Soufrière Hills volcano’s eruption on Montserrat’s island in 1995 covered much of the island in volcanic ash and rendered the land unavailable. Two-thirds of the population fled the island, and now, 28 years on, over half of Montserrat remains an uninhabitable exclusion zone due to volcanic activity.

The nearby island of Barbuda consists of a terrain of coral limestone, which limits agricultural productivity. As a result, locals have to use unsustainable slash-and-burn techniques to grow food. However, the people of both islands can help each other by remineralizing Barbudan soil with mineral-rich volcanic ash from Montserrat.

Come again?

That’s right, by spreading rich volcanic Montserrat ash over limy Barbudan soil, it may be possible for Barbuda to grow enough food to supply both islands because the 2017 results of experiments suggest that a mixture of volcanic ash from Montserrat and soil from Barbuda can dramatically improve agricultural productivity.

Here’s a picture of the same pepper plant after three months:

Season peppers after 3 months

Image credit: RTE website

The larger plant grows in limestone soil mixed with volcanic ash, while the struggling control on the left grows in mineral-depleted Barbudan limy soil.

See more at the Remineralize the Earth website.

Volcanic remineralization of soil is one way of possibly solving the global soil mineral depletion problem.

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