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Article

The Secret ‘After Life’ of Foraminifera: Big Things Out of Small

1
Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering, EGIS, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK
2
School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
3
The Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2020, 10(6), 550; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10060550
Received: 28 April 2020 / Revised: 12 June 2020 / Accepted: 15 June 2020 / Published: 18 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Characterisation of Mudrocks: Textures and Mineralogy)
Calcareous and siliceous microorganisms are common components of mudrocks, and can be important in terms of stratigraphy and environmental interpretation. In addition, such microorganisms can have a significant ‘after life’, through post-mortem alteration, and represent a potential source of additional information about the diagenetic and deformation history of the rock unit. Some examples of the latter are illustrated in this study from foraminifera within a Cretaceous black shale of Colombia. This includes foraminifera tests acting as understudied repositories of authigenic calcite cement, and of elements such as Ba, Zn, Fe and S through the formation of baryte, sphalerite and iron sulphides (pyrite, marcasite). Such repositories, within the body chambers of foraminiferal tests, can provide important windows into the diagenetic processes within mudstones. If calcite cement is not recognised or separated from biogenic calcite, the depositional calcite budget can be easily overestimated, skewing the application of mudrock classification schemes, and affecting environmental interpretation including that of productivity. The elements Ba, Zn and Fe (often in ratio with Al) are commonly utilised as geochemical proxies of environmental parameters (productivity, bottom water redox conditions, etc.). Therefore, the presence of significant amounts of baryte, sphalerite and pyrite-marcasite (within foraminifera) should be noted and their origins (source and timing) investigated based on their spatial relationships before making environmental deductions based on geochemical analysis alone. Additionally, commonly observed marginal shell damage of many of the observed foraminifera is reported. We interpret this damage, for the first time, as an indicator of lateral dissolution, brought about by horizontal foreshortening during orogenesis. This is also supported by the occurrence of microscale anastomosing horizontal to inclined baryte-filled fractures within the mudstone matrix. View Full-Text
Keywords: Cretaceous; diagenesis; foraminifera; carbonate; sulphides; sulphates; foreshortening Cretaceous; diagenesis; foraminifera; carbonate; sulphides; sulphates; foreshortening
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MDPI and ACS Style

Buckman, J.; Mahoney, C.; März, C.; Wagner, T. The Secret ‘After Life’ of Foraminifera: Big Things Out of Small. Minerals 2020, 10, 550. https://doi.org/10.3390/min10060550

AMA Style

Buckman J, Mahoney C, März C, Wagner T. The Secret ‘After Life’ of Foraminifera: Big Things Out of Small. Minerals. 2020; 10(6):550. https://doi.org/10.3390/min10060550

Chicago/Turabian Style

Buckman, Jim, Carol Mahoney, Christian März, and Thomas Wagner. 2020. "The Secret ‘After Life’ of Foraminifera: Big Things Out of Small" Minerals 10, no. 6: 550. https://doi.org/10.3390/min10060550

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