Raman imaging of metastable opal in carbonaceous microfossils of the 700-800 ma old Draken Formation.

Abstract : Opaline silica was detected, with Raman spectroscopy, in carbonaceous microfossils (especially Myxococcoides) in silicified filamentous microbial mats within dolomitized conglomerates of the Draken Formation (-800 to -700 Ma). High-resolution electron microscopy (HRTEM) and microprobe analyses were used to confirm the nature of this phase in the quartz matrix of the microbial mats. The silica likely precipitated in a microcrystalline form onto the organic macromolecules around, and within, the degrading microorganisms and preserved them by inhibiting the natural phase change to quartz. The Raman signal of opaline silica associated with carbonaceous matter and other biosignatures could be a potential indicator of biogenicity. This kind of association could be very useful during the future ExoMars mission (ESA/Roscosmos, 2018) that will search for traces of past life on Mars.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 3:51:50 PM
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Frédéric Foucher, Frances Westall. Raman imaging of metastable opal in carbonaceous microfossils of the 700-800 ma old Draken Formation.. Astrobiology, Mary Ann Liebert, 2013, 13 (1), pp.57-67. ⟨10.1089/ast.2012.0889⟩. ⟨hal-00817450⟩

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