Ferromanganese nodules have been recognized widely as potentially important resources for strategic metals. However it remains unclear if the formation of these nodules is purely an abiotic process or if microorganisms are involved in their formation. To determine the microbial contributions, detailed organic geochemical analyses were performed on ferromanganese nodules collected from across the southwest Indian Ocean. These analyses reveal the presence of specific terrestrial, marine and petroleum derived biomarkers, consistent with formation in a marine setting with a substantial influx of terrestrially derived (higher plant detritus) and naturally occurring petroleum-related organic matter. In contrast, only trace amounts of general bacterial biomarkers, commonly present in these types of depositional environments, were present. This indicates that the formation of these ferromanganese nodules is predominantly an abiotic process although a minor contribution from microbial mediated processes to the growth of these nodules cannot be completely ruled out.

You do not currently have access to this article.