Enhanced microbial activity in carbon-rich pillow lavas, Ordovician, Great Britain and Ireland

John Parnell, Adrian J Boyce, Brett Davidheiser-Kroll, Connor Brolly, Stephen Bowden, Paula Lindgren

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Abstract

There is extensive evidence for the microbial colonization of seafloor basalts in the modern ocean and in the geological record. The sulfur isotope composition of pyrite in the basalts commonly indicates marked isotopic fractionation due to microbial sulfate reduction. Sections through the Nemagraptus gracilis zone (Ordovician) in Great Britain and Ireland are characterized by both widespread pillow lavas and organic-rich seafloor sediment, allowing an exceptional opportunity to assess whether the availability of organic carbon influenced the extent of microbial activity in the basalts in deep geological time. Whole-rock data from basalts at 10 localities show that there is a relationship between sulfur isotopic composition and the carbon content of the basalt. At two localities where organic carbon was entrained in the basalt, isotopic compositions are heavy compared to compositions in carbon-poor basalt, implying that microbial activity exhausted the supply of seawater sulfate. In most basalt, microbial activity was limited by the supply of carbon, but where the basalt incorporated carbon during emplacement on the seafloor, microbial activity became sulfate limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-830
Number of pages4
JournalGeology
Volume43
Issue number9
Early online date28 Jul 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

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microbial activity
Ordovician
basalt
carbon
seafloor
sulfate
isotopic composition
organic carbon
geological time
isotopic fractionation
sulfur isotope
geological record
pyrite
emplacement
colonization
sulfur
seawater
ocean
rock
sediment

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Enhanced microbial activity in carbon-rich pillow lavas, Ordovician, Great Britain and Ireland. / Parnell, John; Boyce, Adrian J; Davidheiser-Kroll, Brett; Brolly, Connor; Bowden, Stephen; Lindgren, Paula.

In: Geology, Vol. 43, No. 9, 09.2015, p. 827-830.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Parnell, John ; Boyce, Adrian J ; Davidheiser-Kroll, Brett ; Brolly, Connor ; Bowden, Stephen ; Lindgren, Paula. / Enhanced microbial activity in carbon-rich pillow lavas, Ordovician, Great Britain and Ireland. In: Geology. 2015 ; Vol. 43, No. 9. pp. 827-830.
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