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Contrasting microfossil preservation and lake chemistries within the 1200–1000 Ma Torridonian Supergroup of NW Scotland

By
David Wacey
David Wacey
Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis, and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, AustraliaSchool of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, Life Sciences Building, 24 Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TQ, UK
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Martin Brasier
Martin Brasier
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3AN, UK
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John Parnell
John Parnell
School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, UK
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Timothy Culwick
Timothy Culwick
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3AN, UK
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Stephen Bowden
Stephen Bowden
School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, UK
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Sam Spinks
Sam Spinks
CSIRO Mineral Resources Flagship, Australian Resources Research Centre, Perth, WA 6151, Australia
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Adrian J. Boyce
Adrian J. Boyce
Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride, Glasgow G75 0QF, UK
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Brett Davidheiser-Kroll
Brett Davidheiser-Kroll
Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride, Glasgow G75 0QF, UK
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Heejin Jeon
Heejin Jeon
Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis, and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
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Martin Saunders
Martin Saunders
Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis, and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
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Matt R. Kilburn
Matt R. Kilburn
Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis, and Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Core to Crust Fluid Systems, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
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Published:
January 01, 2017

Abstract

Oxygenation of the Proterozoic atmosphere caused the progressive build-up of dissolved sulphate on the continents and in marine environments. However, oxygen levels in the Proterozoic were low enough to allow the early burial of biological material into low redox potential environments where permineralization and the authigenic replacement of organic material, including micro-organisms, occurred by a range of minerals. Consequently, microbial sulphate reduction caused the widespread degradation of organic matter and, where iron was available, the precipitation of pyrite. By contrast, where sulphate levels were low, early preservation by other minerals (e.g. phosphate or silica) could be excellent. We show, using two Proterozoic lake sequences with low and high sulphate chemistries, but with otherwise similar characteristics, that microbial sulphate reduction caused a profound loss of morphological detail and diversity within preserved microfossils. The results could imply that there is a significant bias in the Proterozoic fossil record towards low sulphate environments, which were in reality relatively scarce.

Gold Open Access: This article is published under the terms of the CC-BY 3.0 license.

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Contents

Geological Society

Earth System Evolution and Early Life: A Celebration of the Work of Martin Brasier

A. T. Brasier
A. T. Brasier
University of Aberdeen, UK
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D. McIlroy
D. McIlroy
Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
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N. McLoughlin
N. McLoughlin
Rhodes University, South Africa
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Geological Society of London
Volume
448
ISBN electronic:
9781786202932
Publication date:
January 01, 2017

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