Ordovician ash geochemistry and the establishment of land plants

John Parnell (Corresponding Author), Sorcha Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The colonization of the terrestrial environment by land plants transformed the planetary surface and its biota, and shifted the balance of Earth's biomass from the subsurface towards the surface. However there was a long delay between the formation of palaeosols (soils) on the land surface and the key stage of plant colonization. The record of palaeosols, and their colonization by fungi and lichens extends well back into the Precambrian. While these early soils provided a potential substrate, they were generally leached of nutrients as part of the weathering process. In contrast, volcanic ash falls provide a geochemically favourable substrate that is both nutrient-rich and has high water retention, making them good hosts to land plants. An anomalously extensive system of volcanic arcs generated unprecedented volumes of lava and volcanic ash (tuff) during the Ordovician. The earliest, mid-Ordovician, records of plant spores coincide with these widespread volcanic deposits, suggesting the possibility of a genetic relationship. The ash constituted a global environment of nutrient-laden, water-saturated soil that could be exploited to maximum advantage by the evolving anchoring systems of land plants. The rapid and pervasive inoculation of modern volcanic ash by plant spores, and symbiotic nitrogen-fixing fungi, suggests that the Ordovician ash must have received a substantial load of the earliest spores and their chemistry favoured plant development. In particular, high phosphorus levels in ash were favourable to plant growth. This may have allowed photosynthesizers to diversify and enlarge, and transform the surface of the planet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalGeochemical Transactions
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2012

Fingerprint

Ashes
Geochemistry
Volcanic Eruptions
Ordovician
ash
geochemistry
Nutrients
Fungi
Soils
volcanic ash
spore
colonization
Water
paleosol
Planets
Substrates
Weathering
nutrient
Phosphorus
fungus

Keywords

  • Ash geochemistry
  • Biomass
  • Chemical index of alteration
  • Land plants
  • Ordovician
  • Phosphorus
  • Tuff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

Cite this

Ordovician ash geochemistry and the establishment of land plants. / Parnell, John (Corresponding Author); Foster, Sorcha.

In: Geochemical Transactions, Vol. 13, 7, 28.08.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{707d63a9e63d4ef0ac12cba462395ade,
title = "Ordovician ash geochemistry and the establishment of land plants",
abstract = "The colonization of the terrestrial environment by land plants transformed the planetary surface and its biota, and shifted the balance of Earth's biomass from the subsurface towards the surface. However there was a long delay between the formation of palaeosols (soils) on the land surface and the key stage of plant colonization. The record of palaeosols, and their colonization by fungi and lichens extends well back into the Precambrian. While these early soils provided a potential substrate, they were generally leached of nutrients as part of the weathering process. In contrast, volcanic ash falls provide a geochemically favourable substrate that is both nutrient-rich and has high water retention, making them good hosts to land plants. An anomalously extensive system of volcanic arcs generated unprecedented volumes of lava and volcanic ash (tuff) during the Ordovician. The earliest, mid-Ordovician, records of plant spores coincide with these widespread volcanic deposits, suggesting the possibility of a genetic relationship. The ash constituted a global environment of nutrient-laden, water-saturated soil that could be exploited to maximum advantage by the evolving anchoring systems of land plants. The rapid and pervasive inoculation of modern volcanic ash by plant spores, and symbiotic nitrogen-fixing fungi, suggests that the Ordovician ash must have received a substantial load of the earliest spores and their chemistry favoured plant development. In particular, high phosphorus levels in ash were favourable to plant growth. This may have allowed photosynthesizers to diversify and enlarge, and transform the surface of the planet.",
keywords = "Ash geochemistry, Biomass, Chemical index of alteration, Land plants, Ordovician, Phosphorus, Tuff",
author = "John Parnell and Sorcha Foster",
year = "2012",
month = "8",
day = "28",
doi = "10.1186/1467-4866-13-7",
language = "English",
volume = "13",
journal = "Geochemical Transactions",
issn = "1467-4866",
publisher = "BioMed Central",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Ordovician ash geochemistry and the establishment of land plants

AU - Parnell, John

AU - Foster, Sorcha

PY - 2012/8/28

Y1 - 2012/8/28

N2 - The colonization of the terrestrial environment by land plants transformed the planetary surface and its biota, and shifted the balance of Earth's biomass from the subsurface towards the surface. However there was a long delay between the formation of palaeosols (soils) on the land surface and the key stage of plant colonization. The record of palaeosols, and their colonization by fungi and lichens extends well back into the Precambrian. While these early soils provided a potential substrate, they were generally leached of nutrients as part of the weathering process. In contrast, volcanic ash falls provide a geochemically favourable substrate that is both nutrient-rich and has high water retention, making them good hosts to land plants. An anomalously extensive system of volcanic arcs generated unprecedented volumes of lava and volcanic ash (tuff) during the Ordovician. The earliest, mid-Ordovician, records of plant spores coincide with these widespread volcanic deposits, suggesting the possibility of a genetic relationship. The ash constituted a global environment of nutrient-laden, water-saturated soil that could be exploited to maximum advantage by the evolving anchoring systems of land plants. The rapid and pervasive inoculation of modern volcanic ash by plant spores, and symbiotic nitrogen-fixing fungi, suggests that the Ordovician ash must have received a substantial load of the earliest spores and their chemistry favoured plant development. In particular, high phosphorus levels in ash were favourable to plant growth. This may have allowed photosynthesizers to diversify and enlarge, and transform the surface of the planet.

AB - The colonization of the terrestrial environment by land plants transformed the planetary surface and its biota, and shifted the balance of Earth's biomass from the subsurface towards the surface. However there was a long delay between the formation of palaeosols (soils) on the land surface and the key stage of plant colonization. The record of palaeosols, and their colonization by fungi and lichens extends well back into the Precambrian. While these early soils provided a potential substrate, they were generally leached of nutrients as part of the weathering process. In contrast, volcanic ash falls provide a geochemically favourable substrate that is both nutrient-rich and has high water retention, making them good hosts to land plants. An anomalously extensive system of volcanic arcs generated unprecedented volumes of lava and volcanic ash (tuff) during the Ordovician. The earliest, mid-Ordovician, records of plant spores coincide with these widespread volcanic deposits, suggesting the possibility of a genetic relationship. The ash constituted a global environment of nutrient-laden, water-saturated soil that could be exploited to maximum advantage by the evolving anchoring systems of land plants. The rapid and pervasive inoculation of modern volcanic ash by plant spores, and symbiotic nitrogen-fixing fungi, suggests that the Ordovician ash must have received a substantial load of the earliest spores and their chemistry favoured plant development. In particular, high phosphorus levels in ash were favourable to plant growth. This may have allowed photosynthesizers to diversify and enlarge, and transform the surface of the planet.

KW - Ash geochemistry

KW - Biomass

KW - Chemical index of alteration

KW - Land plants

KW - Ordovician

KW - Phosphorus

KW - Tuff

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84865323059&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1186/1467-4866-13-7

DO - 10.1186/1467-4866-13-7

M3 - Article

VL - 13

JO - Geochemical Transactions

JF - Geochemical Transactions

SN - 1467-4866

M1 - 7

ER -