Please join us for a seminar given by Ashley Manning-Berg, Assistant Professor of Geology in the Department of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
Title: Insights into exceptional preservation via silicification during the Proterozoic
Abstract: Early diagenetic chert deposits are common in Mesoproterozoic peritidal carbonate strata and can record exceptional preservation of microbial morphologies. Petrographic studies of silicified microbial mats from the Proterozoic show no evidence of a precursor phase, suggesting that silica is a primary mineral phase. Such preservation can inform our understanding of early Earth ecosystems and potential extraterrestrial ecosystems; however, the silicification process in low-temperature surface environments is not yet understood. Taphonomic processes, including those that preserve organisms – like silicification – can obscure the interpretation of ancient microbial ecosystems. This talk will look at petrographic observations of silicified microfossils, modern microbial communities, actualistic studies of microbial degradation, and artificial fossilization experiments to investigate the extent to which these microfossils are preserved during silicification.