Evidence for cryptoendolithic life in Devonian pillow basalts of Variscan orogens, Germany

Eickmann, B., Bach, W., Kiel, S., Reitner, J. and Peckmann, J. (2009) Evidence for cryptoendolithic life in Devonian pillow basalts of Variscan orogens, Germany Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 283 (3-4). pp. 120-125. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.09.006.

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Abstract

Late Devonian (Frasnian) pillow basalts from the Frankenwald and Thuringer Wald within the Saxothuringian zone in Germany were found to contain abundant putative biogenic filaments, indicating that the volcanic rocks once harbored microbial life. The mineralized filaments are found in calcite-filled amygdules (former vesicles), where they started to form on internal surfaces of vesicles after seawater ingress. The filaments postdate an early fibrous carbonate cement but predate later equant calcite spar, revealing syngenetic formation. A biogenic origin of filaments is indicated by their size and morphology resembling modern microorganisms, their independence of crystal faces and cleavage plans, complex branching patterns, and internal segmentation. The filamentous microorganisms represent cryptoendoliths that lived in structural cavities of the basalt. They became preserved upon microbial clay authigenesis similar to the encrustation of modern prokaryotes in iron-rich environments. Filaments consist of clay minerals with the endmember composition berthierine-chamosite and illite-glauconite. Based on the discovery of fossilized filamentous microorganisms in Late Devonian pillow basalts; of the Saxothurigian zone that are similar to filaments previously found in Middle Devonian pillow basalts; of the Rhenohercynian zone, it is apparent that cryptoendolithic life was more widespread than previously recognized. Structural cavities within seafloor basalt may thus represent a common, perhaps universal niche for life in the oceanic crust. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Cryptoendoliths Pillow basalt Microbial clay authigenesis Saxothuringian zone sea-floor basalt volcanic glass ocean crust microbial life diversity rocks microorganisms authigenesis community minerals
Research affiliation: Kiel University
Refereed: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2009.09.006
ISSN: 0031-0182
Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2011 05:56
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2012 03:56
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/15768

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