A Test of the Biogenicity Criteria Established for Microfossils and Stromatolites on Quaternary Tufa and Speleothem Materials Formed in the “Twilight Zone” at Caerwys, UK

A. T. Brasier, M. R. Rogerson, R. Mercedes-Martin, H. B. Vonhof, J.J.G. Reijmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The ability to distinguish the features of a chemical sedimentary rock that can only be attributed to biology is a challenge relevant to both geobiology and astrobiology. This study aimed to test criteria for recognizing petrographically the biogenicity of microbially influenced fabrics and fossil microbes in complex Quaternary stalactitic carbonate rocks from Caerwys, UK. We found that the presence of carbonaceous microfossils, fabrics produced by the calcification of microbial filaments, and the asymmetrical development of tufa fabrics due to the more rapid growth of microbially influenced laminations could be recognized as biogenic features. Petrographic evidence also indicated that the development of ”speleothem-like” laminae was related to episodes of growth interrupted by intervals of non-deposition and erosion. The lack of any biogenic characteristics in these laminae is consistent with their development as a result of variation in the physico-chemical parameters that drive calcite precipitation from meteoric waters in such environmental settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-900
Number of pages19
JournalAstrobiology
Volume15
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

Fingerprint

tufa
twilight
microfossils
speleothem
microfossil
Exobiology
Calcium Carbonate
Carbonates
Growth
exobiology
carbonate rocks
sedimentary rocks
calcification
lamination
testing
fossils
calcite
microorganisms
meteoric water
biology

Keywords

  • microfossil
  • stromalite
  • biogenicity
  • carbonate
  • tufa
  • speleothem

Cite this

A Test of the Biogenicity Criteria Established for Microfossils and Stromatolites on Quaternary Tufa and Speleothem Materials Formed in the “Twilight Zone” at Caerwys, UK. / Brasier, A. T.; Rogerson, M. R.; Mercedes-Martin, R.; Vonhof, H. B.; Reijmer, J.J.G.

In: Astrobiology, Vol. 15, No. 10, 10.2015, p. 883-900.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{dcf387b390994af78e17197db44408fd,
title = "A Test of the Biogenicity Criteria Established for Microfossils and Stromatolites on Quaternary Tufa and Speleothem Materials Formed in the “Twilight Zone” at Caerwys, UK",
abstract = "The ability to distinguish the features of a chemical sedimentary rock that can only be attributed to biology is a challenge relevant to both geobiology and astrobiology. This study aimed to test criteria for recognizing petrographically the biogenicity of microbially influenced fabrics and fossil microbes in complex Quaternary stalactitic carbonate rocks from Caerwys, UK. We found that the presence of carbonaceous microfossils, fabrics produced by the calcification of microbial filaments, and the asymmetrical development of tufa fabrics due to the more rapid growth of microbially influenced laminations could be recognized as biogenic features. Petrographic evidence also indicated that the development of ”speleothem-like” laminae was related to episodes of growth interrupted by intervals of non-deposition and erosion. The lack of any biogenic characteristics in these laminae is consistent with their development as a result of variation in the physico-chemical parameters that drive calcite precipitation from meteoric waters in such environmental settings.",
keywords = "microfossil, stromalite, biogenicity, carbonate, tufa, speleothem",
author = "Brasier, {A. T.} and Rogerson, {M. R.} and R. Mercedes-Martin and Vonhof, {H. B.} and J.J.G. Reijmer",
note = "Natural Resources Wales and Steven Griffiths are thanked for access to Caerwys quarry and permission to work on the site. Sebastiaan Edelman and Thomas Logeman assisted with fieldwork and provided some of the field photographs. Bouke Lacet (Sedimentology laboratory, VU University Amsterdam) prepared the thin-sections. Three anonymous reviewers helped to sharpen the manuscript, and Sherry Cady provided valuable editorial advice and assistance. A.T.B. was inspired by Martin Brasier. He dedicates this manuscript to his father’s memory.",
year = "2015",
month = "10",
doi = "10.1089/ast.2015.1293",
language = "English",
volume = "15",
pages = "883--900",
journal = "Astrobiology",
issn = "1531-1074",
publisher = "Mary Ann Liebert Inc.",
number = "10",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A Test of the Biogenicity Criteria Established for Microfossils and Stromatolites on Quaternary Tufa and Speleothem Materials Formed in the “Twilight Zone” at Caerwys, UK

AU - Brasier, A. T.

AU - Rogerson, M. R.

AU - Mercedes-Martin, R.

AU - Vonhof, H. B.

AU - Reijmer, J.J.G.

N1 - Natural Resources Wales and Steven Griffiths are thanked for access to Caerwys quarry and permission to work on the site. Sebastiaan Edelman and Thomas Logeman assisted with fieldwork and provided some of the field photographs. Bouke Lacet (Sedimentology laboratory, VU University Amsterdam) prepared the thin-sections. Three anonymous reviewers helped to sharpen the manuscript, and Sherry Cady provided valuable editorial advice and assistance. A.T.B. was inspired by Martin Brasier. He dedicates this manuscript to his father’s memory.

PY - 2015/10

Y1 - 2015/10

N2 - The ability to distinguish the features of a chemical sedimentary rock that can only be attributed to biology is a challenge relevant to both geobiology and astrobiology. This study aimed to test criteria for recognizing petrographically the biogenicity of microbially influenced fabrics and fossil microbes in complex Quaternary stalactitic carbonate rocks from Caerwys, UK. We found that the presence of carbonaceous microfossils, fabrics produced by the calcification of microbial filaments, and the asymmetrical development of tufa fabrics due to the more rapid growth of microbially influenced laminations could be recognized as biogenic features. Petrographic evidence also indicated that the development of ”speleothem-like” laminae was related to episodes of growth interrupted by intervals of non-deposition and erosion. The lack of any biogenic characteristics in these laminae is consistent with their development as a result of variation in the physico-chemical parameters that drive calcite precipitation from meteoric waters in such environmental settings.

AB - The ability to distinguish the features of a chemical sedimentary rock that can only be attributed to biology is a challenge relevant to both geobiology and astrobiology. This study aimed to test criteria for recognizing petrographically the biogenicity of microbially influenced fabrics and fossil microbes in complex Quaternary stalactitic carbonate rocks from Caerwys, UK. We found that the presence of carbonaceous microfossils, fabrics produced by the calcification of microbial filaments, and the asymmetrical development of tufa fabrics due to the more rapid growth of microbially influenced laminations could be recognized as biogenic features. Petrographic evidence also indicated that the development of ”speleothem-like” laminae was related to episodes of growth interrupted by intervals of non-deposition and erosion. The lack of any biogenic characteristics in these laminae is consistent with their development as a result of variation in the physico-chemical parameters that drive calcite precipitation from meteoric waters in such environmental settings.

KW - microfossil

KW - stromalite

KW - biogenicity

KW - carbonate

KW - tufa

KW - speleothem

U2 - 10.1089/ast.2015.1293

DO - 10.1089/ast.2015.1293

M3 - Article

VL - 15

SP - 883

EP - 900

JO - Astrobiology

JF - Astrobiology

SN - 1531-1074

IS - 10

ER -