Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2021

DOI

10.1089/ast.2021.0011

Publication Title

Astrobiology

Volume

21

Issue

7

Pages

866-892

Abstract

Abundant and well-preserved fossil microbenthos occurs in siliciclastic deposits of all Earth ages, from the early Archean to today. Studies in modern settings show how microbenthos responds to sediment dynamics by baffling and trapping, binding, biostabilization, and growth. Results of this microbial-sediment interaction are microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS). Successful prospection for rich MISS occurrences in the terrestrial lithological record requires unraveling genesis and taphonomy of MISS, both of which are defined only by a narrow range of specific conditions. These conditions have to coincide with high detectability which is a function of outcrop quality, bedding character, and rock type. Assertions on biogenicity of MISS morphologies must be based on the presence of microbially induced sedimentary textures (MIST), which are MISS-internal textures comprising replacement minerals arranged into microscopic biological morphologies, ancient carbonaceous matter, trace fossils, and geochemical signals. MISS serve as possible templates for the decryption of ancient life-processes on Mars. This article closes with a perspective on selected deposits and ancient environments in Meridiani Planum, Gale Crater, and Jezero Crater, Mars, regarding their potential for MISS occurrences. The earlier hypothesis of structures on Mars as potentially being MISS is revised.

Comments

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and the source are credited.

Original Publication Citation

Noffke, N. (2021). Microbially induced sedimentary structures in clastic deposits: Implication for the prospection for fossil life on Mars. Astrobiology, 21(7), 866-892. https://doi.org/10.1089/ast.2021.0011

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