Sulfur isotope signatures for rapid colonization of an impact crater by thermophilic microbes

John Parnell, Adrian Boyce, Scott Neil Thackrey, David K Muirhead, Paula Lindgren, Charles Mason, Colin William Taylor, John W Still, Stephen Bowden, Gordon R. Osinski, Pascal Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


In the 23-km-diameter Haughton impact structure, Canadian High Arctic, in sulfate-rich bedrock, widespread hydrothermal sulfide mineralization occurred in breccias formed during the impact. The sulfides exhibit extreme sulfur isotopic fractionation relative to the original sulfate, requiring microbial sulfate reduction by thermophiles throughout the crater. This evidence of widespread microbial activity demonstrates that colonization could occur within the lifetime of a moderately sized, impact-induced hydrothermal system. The pyrite was subsequently oxidized to jarosite, which may also have been microbially mediated. The successful detection of evidence for microbial life suggests that it would be a valuable technique to deploy in sulfate-rich impact terrain on Mars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-274
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Devon Island
  • sulfate reduction
  • Mars
  • fractionation
  • jarosite
  • pyrite
  • combustion
  • DELTA-S-34
  • minerals
  • insights


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