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Fossilized iron bacteria reveal a pathway to the biological origin of banded iron formation

Chi Fru, Ernest ORCID:, Ivarsson, Magnus, Kilias, Stephanos P., Bengtson, Stefan, Belivanova, Veneta, Marone, Federica, Fortin, Danielle, Broman, Curt and Stampanoni, Marco 2013. Fossilized iron bacteria reveal a pathway to the biological origin of banded iron formation. Nature Communications 4 , 2050. 10.1038/ncomms3050

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Debates on the formation of banded iron formations in ancient ferruginous oceans are dominated by a dichotomy between abiotic and biotic iron cycling. This is fuelled by difficulties in unravelling the exact processes involved in their formation. Here we provide fossil environmental evidence for anoxygenic photoferrotrophic deposition of analogue banded iron rocks in shallow marine waters associated with an Early Quaternary hydrothermal vent field on Milos Island, Greece. Trace metal, major and rare earth elemental compositions suggest that the deposited rocks closely resemble banded iron formations of Precambrian origin. Well-preserved microbial fossils in combination with chemical data imply that band formation was linked to periodic massive encrustation of anoxygenic phototrophic biofilms by iron oxyhydroxide alternating with abiotic silica precipitation. The data implicate cyclic anoxygenic photoferrotrophy and their fossilization mechanisms in the construction of microskeletal fabrics that result in the formation of characteristic banded iron formation bands of varying silica and iron oxide ratios.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group: Nature Communications
ISSN: 2041-1723
Date of Acceptance: 23 May 2013
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2022 09:44

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