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Ferretti, A., Cavalazzi, B., Barbieri, R., Westall, F., Foucher, F. and Todesco, R.

From black-and-white to colour in the Silurian

Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 367-368, pages178-192

par Frapart - publié le , mis à jour le

Abstract :

Ironstones and iron-rich limestones regularly occur as components of time-specific intervals of the Palaeozoic as well as in younger times (Brett et al., this issue). Silurian sediments deposited at high latitudes along the peri-Gondwana border are characterized by black and white limestone and graptolitic shale sequences. Those in the Carnic Alps (southern Austria) additionally contain colourful pink to red limestones and ironstones. Laminated structures such as the (ferruginous)-coatings around skeletal fragments (mostly trilobites and some cephalopods and echinoderms) and stromatolitic features along discontinuity surfaces display dark red, green, white and brownish colours due to the presence of goethite,magnetite, hematite, chamosite, calcite and subordinate apatite.
Confocal laser Raman microscopy and complementary microscopic analysis of these ferruginous laminated structures document the presence of carbonaceousmatter associatedwith fossilizedmicrobial structures in the form of stromatolites, filaments and coccoids, suggesting a microbial role in the colouring of the Silurian world of the Carnic Alps. Iron concentrations up to 30× that of matrix and surrounding non-ferruginous rocks suggest blooms of iron microbe activity in response to the time-specific occurrence of chemically charged sea water during global biotic events.