Authors Götze, J. ; Hofmann, B. ; Machalowski, T. ; Tsurkan, M. ; Jesionowski, T. ; Ehrlich, H. ; Kleeberg, R. ; Ottens, B.
Title Biosignatures in subsurface filamentous fabrics (SFF) from the Deccan Volcanic Province, India
Date 11.08.2020
Abstract The morphology, chemical, and mineralogical composition of subsurface filamentous fabrics (SFF) from the Deccan Volcanic Province (DVP) were investigated to determine the origin of these spectacular aggregates. SFF occur in a wide variety of morphologies ranging from pseudo-stalactites to irregular fabrics and are classified as SFFIr (irregular) or SFFMa (matted). The SFF samples exhibit a thread-like (or filament-like) center from which mineral precipitation starts to form the final macroscopic morphologies. Detailed investigations revealed organic material (fungal chitin) in the innermost filamentous core, which may have acted as an initial nucleus for the mineralization processes. The morphometric characteristics of certain filamentous fabrics are very similar to those of microbial filaments and the fabrics formed from them but are clearly distinct from similar types of non-biological precipitates (fibrous minerals, speleothems, and “chemical gardens”). These features indicate that the filamentous cores might be products of microbial communities that were active in the basaltic cavities. The SFF cross-sections display similar concentric layers of the mineral succession and reach thicknesses of several centimeters with spectacular lengths up to 100 cm and constant diameters. The typical mineralization sequence points to temporal variation in the chemical composition of the mineralizing fluids from Fe(Mg)-rich (Fe-oxides/-hydroxides, Fe-rich sheet silicates such as celadonite and di-/tri-smectite) to Ca-dominated (Ca-rich zeolites) and finally pure SiO2 (opal-CT, chalcedony, and macro-crystalline quartz). Assuming biological activity at least during the early mineralization processes, circumneutral pH conditions and maximum temperatures of 100–120 °C were supposed. The formation of filamentous cores including Fe-bearing phyllosilicates probably occurred near the surface after cooling of the lava, where the elements necessary for mineral formation (i.e., Si, Mg, Al, Fe) were released during alteration of the volcanic host rocks by percolating fluids
Journal Minerals 10 (2020) 540

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