Magnesite formation by microbial activity: Evidence from a Miocene hypersaline lake



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Sanz Montero, M. Esther and Rodríguez Aranda, Juan Pablo (2012) Magnesite formation by microbial activity: Evidence from a Miocene hypersaline lake. Sedimentary geology, 263-64 . pp. 6-15. ISSN 0037-0738

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This paper provides an ancient analogue for biologically mediated magnesite in lacustrine hypersaline environments. Thin beds of massive to crudely laminated magnesitic marls occur interbedded with mudstone and evaporite facies deposited in a saline lake-mudflat sedimentary system during the Lower Miocene in the Madrid Basin, Central Spain. Exposure of this succession in a recently excavated tunnel and in collected cores offered a good opportunity to study magnesite precipitates that have been preserved in unaltered conditions by primary evaporitic minerals. Specifically, magnesite arranged as host matrix between and enclosed by displacive halite and glauberite crystals occurs closely associated with abundant microfossils embedded in sheets of organic matter, interpreted as the remains of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Even, many magnesite clots are seen to have resulted from the agglutination of fossilized bacterial bodies forming a biofilm. The close and pervasive association of microorganisms and magnesite is used as evidence that microbes played a fundamental role in the precipitation of this mineral. Additional traces of microorganisms and microbial activity observed in magnesite beds include the isotopic ratios in the carbonates, with the δ13C(PDB) value averaging −6.2‰, the presence of carbonaceous film-like structures and the association with patchly-distributed pyrite and celestite minerals. On the basis of the combined sedimentological, mineralogical, chemical and morphological signatures of the magnesitic deposits, it is postulated that carbonate crystals precipitated in microbial mats. Magnesite crystals together with celestite, local barite, and/or pyrite have been also observed to replace silicate and sulphate minerals. It is suggested that magnesite precipitation was biochemically coupled with the early dissolution of the associated sedimentary minerals. Microbes may have used the associated minerals as source of energy and/or of essential elements.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Magnesite, Halite, Bacterial entrapment, Inclusions, Glauberite, Bioweathering
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Mineralogy
Sciences > Geology > Petrology
ID Code:58529
Deposited On:14 Jan 2020 12:51
Last Modified:14 Jan 2020 12:55

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