Evidence for early life in Earth’s oldest hydrothermal vent precipitates

  title={Evidence for early life in Earth’s oldest hydrothermal vent precipitates},
  author={Matthew S. Dodd and Dominic Papineau and Tor Grenne and John F. Slack and Martin Rittner and Franco Pirajno and Jonathan O’Neil and Crispin T. S. Little},
Although it is not known when or where life on Earth began, some of the earliest habitable environments may have been submarine-hydrothermal vents. Here we describe putative fossilized microorganisms that are at least 3,770 million and possibly 4,280 million years old in ferruginous sedimentary rocks, interpreted as seafloor-hydrothermal vent-related precipitates, from the Nuvvuagittuq belt in Quebec, Canada. These structures occur as micrometre-scale haematite tubes and filaments with… Expand
The history of life at hydrothermal vents
Abstract Hydrothermal vents are among the most fascinating environments that exist within the modern oceans, being home to highly productive communities of specially-adapted fauna, supported byExpand
Did Life Begin Soon After the Earth Formed?
There are no confirmed microfossils older than 3,500 million years (Myr) on Earth. Recently Mathew Dodd, Dominic Papineau, Tor Grenne, John Slack, Martin Rittner, Franco Pirajno, Jonathan O’Neil, andExpand
Widespread occurrences of variably crystalline 13C-depleted graphitic carbon in banded iron formations
Abstract Almost all evidence for the oldest traces of life on Earth rely on particles of graphitic carbon preserved in rocks of sedimentary protolith. Yet, the source of carbon in such ancientExpand
Biogenic and Abiogenic Graphite in Minerals and Rocks of the Early Earth
Minerals and rocks older than 3.7 billion years in age have attracted investigators looking to find evidence for traces of life. However, ancient rocks are heavily metamorphosed, leaving onlyExpand
Dubiofossils from a Mars-analogue subsurface palaeoenvironment: The limits of biogenicity criteria.
It is argued that abiotic processes driven by serpentinization could account for the same set of lifelike features, and a chemical garden experiment is reported that supports this view. Expand
Signatures of early microbial life from the Archean (4 to 2.5 Ga) eon
Abstract The Archean era (4 to 2.5 billion years ago, Ga) yielded rocks that include the oldest conclusive traces of life as well as many controversial occurrences. Carbonaceous matter is found inExpand
Earth's earliest and deepest purported fossils may be iron-mineralized chemical gardens
  • S. McMahon
  • Geography, Medicine
  • Proceedings of the Royal Society B
  • 2019
Here, it is shown experimentally that abiotic chemical gardening can mimic such purported fossils in both morphology and composition, while also producing the precursors to the iron minerals most commonly constitutive of filaments in the rock record. Expand
Microbial-tubeworm associations in a 440 million year old hydrothermal vent community
The Yaman Kasy fossil filaments represent the oldest animal–microbial associations preserved within an ancient hydrothermal vent environment, and demonstrate that remarkable fine-scale microbial preservation can also be observed in ancient vent deposits, suggesting the possible existence of similar exceptionally preserved microfossils in even older vent environments. Expand
On the biogenicity of Fe-oxyhydroxide filaments in silicified low-temperature hydrothermal deposits: Implications for the identification of Fe-oxidizing bacteria in the rock record.
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Textural and geochemical characteristics of hematitic chert deposits in SW Norway: Implications for formation settings and processes
Jasper, a specific type of hematitic chert, is often interpreted as an ancient analogue to modern seafloor hydrothermal deposits. Modern lowtemperature seafloor hydrothermal Fe-deposits are mainlyExpand


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It is shown that graphite occurs abundantly in secondary carbonate veins in the ISB that are formed at depth in the crust by injection of hot fluids reacting with older crustal rocks (metasomatism); these metasomatic rocks, which clearly lack biological relevance, were earlier thought to be of sedimentary origin. Expand
Evidence for life on Earth before 3,800 million years ago
IT is unknown when life first appeared on Earth. The earliest known microfossils (˜3,500 Myr before present) are structurally complex, and if it is assumed that the associated organisms required aExpand
Ancient graphite in the Eoarchean quartz–pyroxene rocks from Akilia in southern West Greenland I: Petrographic and spectroscopic characterization
Because all known Eoarchean (>3.65 Ga) volcano-sedimentary terranes are locked in granitoid gneiss complexes that have experienced high degrees of metamorphism and deformation, the origin and mode ofExpand
Early Jurassic hydrothermal vent community from the Franciscan Complex, San Rafael Mountains, California
The Figueroa massive sulfide deposit, located in Franciscan Complex rocks in the San Rafael Mountains of California, preserves the only known Jurassic hydrothermal vent fossils. The Figueroa fossilExpand
Evidence of Biogenic Activity in Quartz-Hematite Rocks of the Urals VMS Deposits
The textural, mineralogical, and geochemical features of quartz-hematite rocks associated with Urals VMS deposits indicate that the tube microfossils are responsible for immobilization andExpand
Four-Hundred-and-Ninety-Million-Year Record of Bacteriogenic Iron Oxide Precipitation at Sea-Floor Hydrothermal Vents
Fe oxide deposits are commonly found at hydrothermal vent sites at mid-ocean ridge and back-arc sea floor spreading centers, seamounts associated with these spreading centers, and intra-plateExpand
Ultra-diffuse hydrothermal venting supports Fe-oxidizing bacteria and massive umber deposition at 5000 m off Hawaii
It is suggested that the biogenic FeMO Deep hydrothermal deposit represents a modern analog for one class of geological iron deposits known as ‘umbers’ because of striking similarities in size, setting and internal structures. Expand
Cambrian microbial and silica gel textures in silica iron exhalites from the Mount Windsor volcanic belt, Australia; their petrography, chemistry, and origin
Stratiform quartz-hematite or magnetite lenses (ironstones) occur sporadically throughout the Mount Windsor volcanic belt at three main stratigraphic positions, including along strike from andExpand
Tracing Biosignature Preservation of Geothermally Silicified Microbial Textures into the Geological Record.
Results indicate that microbial communities vary at the micron scale and that early and rapid silicification is paramount to long-term preservation, especially where minimal postdepositional disturbance follows fossilization. Expand
Metalliferous Sediment and a Silica-Hematite Deposit within the Blanco Fracture Zone, Northeast Pacific
A Tiburon ROV dive within the East Blanco Depression (EBD) increased the mapped extent of a known hydrothermal field by an order of magnitude. In addition, a unique opal-CTExpand