Skip to Main Content
Skip Nav Destination

Understanding fossilization; experimental pyritization of plants

Stephen T. Grimes, Fiona Brock, David Rickard, Kevin L. Davies, Dianne Edwards, Derek E. G. Briggs and R. John Parkes
Understanding fossilization; experimental pyritization of plants
Geology (Boulder) (February 2001) 29 (2): 123-126


The process of fossilization is poorly understood. However, it is central to our understanding of the evolution of life. It is unclear how plant tissues become fossilized, whether fossilization is selective to specific biopolymers, or whether original organic constituents survive. We have replicated the fossilization process in the laboratory by using both microbial and chemical approaches to pyritize plant debris. These results demonstrate that initial pyritization can be an extremely rapid process (within 80 days) and is driven by anaerobic bacterial-mediated decay. Initially, pyrite precipitates on and within plant cell walls and in the spaces between them. Further decay and infilling at all scales preserves broad cellular anatomy. The results have implications for fossilization in general and the fidelity of the taxonomic and biomolecular information preserved in fossils.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 29
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Understanding fossilization; experimental pyritization of plants
Affiliation: Cardiff University, Department of Earth Sciences, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Pages: 123-126
Published: 200102
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 21
Accession Number: 2001-013806
Categories: Igneous and metamorphic petrologyPaleobotany
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: Includes appendix
Illustration Description: illus.
Secondary Affiliation: Bristol University, Bristol, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2018, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 200105
Close Modal

or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal