The Vivid Blue Mineral That Grows on Buried Bodies and Confuses Archeologists
In 1861, a railway engineer by the name of John White passed away, was buried in a cast iron coffin, and began a slow transformation from White to blue.
The explanation for this spooky color change, which has occurred on numerous occasions all over the world, lies in the composition of the human body. Among the molecules contained within us is phosphate, a central phosphorus atom bound on four sides to atoms of oxygen. Phosphate is present in the hard bits of bones and teeth (as part of the mineral hydroxylapatite), helps hold together strands of DNA and RNA, and is used by cells to store and move energy around as well as to organize their many protein-driven activities.
If a dead person ends up buried somewhere waterlogged, lacking in oxygen, and loaded with iron, the phosphate leaking from their decaying remains can slowly combine with the iron and water to form a mineral called vivianite. Read more.