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Study Data from University of Oxford Provide New Insights into Precambrian Research (Geochemistry and nano-structure of a putative similar to 3240...

August 22, 2014



Study Data from University of Oxford Provide New Insights into Precambrian Research (Geochemistry and nano-structure of a putative similar to 3240 million-year-old black smoker biota, Sulphur Springs Group, Western Australia)

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Science Letter -- Data detailed on Precambrian Research have been presented. According to news reporting originating from Oxford, United Kingdom, by NewsRx correspondents, research stated, "Filaments of pyrite found within a volcanic hosted massive sulphide (VHMS) deposit from the similar to 3270-3230 Ma Sulphur Springs Group of Western Australia have previously been interpreted as remnants of some of Earth's oldest thermophilic microbial communities. We here re-examine these pyrite filaments using a suite of in situ high spatial resolution techniques and provide new observations on their geochemistry, morphology, texture, distribution and habitat."

Our news editors obtained a quote from the research from the University of Oxford, "A number of the Sulphur Springs filaments retain geochemical evidence for remnants of organic material. This takes the form of patches of carbon and nitrogen enrichment seemingly enclosed within a completely pyritised filament. The distribution of this organic material closely resembles that observed in younger bona fide pyritised filamentous microbes. Most filaments also possess a distinctive spongelike nano-porous pyrite texture, which is replicated in younger pyritised microfossils and bio-mediated pyrite framboids, and is consistent with pyrite nucleation in an organic matrix. New 3D analyses confirm previous observations of approximately uniform filament diameters, lack of branching, clustering of filaments, plus zones of filaments with preferred orientations. Multiple sulphur isotope analyses indicate that the sulphur for pyritisation likely came from a mixture of seawater and magmatic sources, consistent with a black smoker type habitat and permissive of the presence of life in this setting. While these data are consistent with a biological interpretation for the Sulphur Springs filaments, perhaps as pyritised filamentous microorganisms or bundles of pyritised extra-cellular polymeric substances (EPS), the evidence is not compelling. Solid filament cross-sections and straight lengthwise morphology of most filaments resemble abiotic crystal needles or whiskers, while the parallel and radial alignments of filaments could be replicated by crystal growth patterns. Carbon and nitrogen enrichment could have occurred when organic material entrained within hydrothermal fluids was adsorbed onto these mineral crystals."

According to the news editors, the research concluded: "Further work to obtain larger databases of nano-scale textures and morphologies from both biological and abiotic pyrite is needed before an abiotic formation mechanism can be confidently rejected."

For more information on this research see: Geochemistry and nano-structure of a putative similar to 3240 million-year-old black smoker biota, Sulphur Springs Group, Western Australia. Precambrian Research, 2014;249():1-12. Precambrian Research can be contacted at: Elsevier Science Bv, PO Box 211, 1000 Ae Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Elsevier - www.elsevier.com; Precambrian Research - www.elsevier.com/wps/product/cws_home/503357)

The news editors report that additional information may be obtained by contacting D. Wacey, University of Oxford, Dept. of Earth Sci, Oxford OX1 3AN, United Kingdom. Additional authors for this research include M. Saunders, J. Cliff, M.R. Kilburn, C. Kong, M.E. Barley and M.D. Brasier (see also Precambrian Research).

Keywords for this news article include: Oxford, Europe, Chemicals, Geochemistry, United Kingdom, Precambrian Research

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Source: Science Letter


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