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Fossilized endolithic microorganisms in pillowlavas from the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
Swedish Museum of Natural History, Department of Paleobiology.
Stockholm University.
2019 (English)In: Geosciences, ISSN 2076-3263, Vol. 9, no 11, article id 456Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The last decade has revealed the igneous oceanic crust to host a more abundant and diverse biota than previously expected. These underexplored rock-hosted deep ecosystems dominated Earth’s biosphere prior to plants colonized land in the Ordovician, thus the fossil record of deep endoliths holds invaluable clues to early life and the work to decrypt them needs to be intensified. Here, we present fossilized microorganisms found in open and sealed pore spaces in pillow lavas from the Troodos Ophiolite (91 Ma) on Cyprus. A fungal interpretation is inferred upon the microorganisms based on characteristic morphological features. Geochemical conditions are reconstructed using data from mineralogy, fluid inclusions and the fossils themselves. Mineralogy indicates at least three hydrothermal events and a continuous increase of temperature and pH. Precipitation of 1) celadonite and saponite together with the microbial introduction was followed by 2) Na and Ca zeolites resulting in clay adherence on the microorganisms as protection, and finally 3) Ca carbonates resulted in final fossilization and preservation of the organisms in-situ. Deciphering the fossil record of the deep subseafloor biosphere is a challenging task, but when successful, can unlock doors to life’s cryptic past.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Basel: MDPI , 2019. Vol. 9, no 11, article id 456
Keywords [en]
deep biosphere, fossilized microorganisms, Ophiolite
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Diversity of life
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:nrm:diva-3388DOI: 10.3390/geosciences9110456OAI: oai:DiVA.org:nrm-3388DiVA, id: diva2:1371236
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2017-04129Available from: 2019-11-19 Created: 2019-11-19 Last updated: 2020-01-08Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttps://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9110456

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