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La formation néoprotérozoïque de Browne est une unité stratigraphique bien datée de roches sédimentaires chimiques et siliciclastiques bien conservées ,trouvées dans le sous-sol du centre de l'Australie. © Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Microorganisms 830 million years old have been found trapped in minerals

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three geologists from West Virginia University (West Virginia University)Sarah Schrader-Gomez, Kathleen Benison and Jeremiah Bernau, Published article in review geology May 6. They discovered that the primary fluid inclusions in the halite in the Brown formation contained hard and the Liquids organic. Halite comes from the evaporation of salt lakes or seas resulting in rocks with a high concentration of salt, called evaporites. The studied sample originated from central Australia and was formed 830 million years ago.

The organic traces present in this halite were determined by a method light Which made it possible to describe the size, shape and the color from Materials Organic materials, and by ultraviolet visible (UV-vis) lithography method that shows the fluorescent response of any microorganism and organic compound present. These techniques revealed that the halite sample contained cells Prokaryotes, eukaryotes and organic compounds. It has also been observed that impurities of fluids that are trapped in them Microorganisms Served as their micro-habitat and allowed their exceptional conservation.

Are these microorganisms alive?

To survive in highly saline environments, some organisms such as algae shrink and reduce their biological activity, then wait for better conditions to wake up.

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However, it is not yet known whether living organisms are capable of this Hibernate as long as. Oldest halite Prokaryotes Live dates were extracted about 250 million years ago, so it is possible that these microorganisms found in Australia were as well.

Until recently, it was suggested that sunshine destroying organic matter over long periods of time. But the discovery of these microorganisms in halite from 830 Ma Browne Formation is strong evidence that organic matter can be preserved in sediment crystals over a long geological period.

Way to find life on Mars?

Brown formation halite is similar in structure and properties to the rocks of Mars. In fact, Mars once knew areas of salt water in which halite could form by evaporation. Therefore, the results of this study indicate the possibility of maintaining similar microfossils in the sedimentary rocks of Mars, and thus could be a new avenue of investigation to see if Mars ever harbored life.

Therefore, the ancient sedimentary rocks, both terrestrial and extraterrestrial, still have much to offer in terms of information about the past, and it is therefore essential that geologists Think of them as things that can be made up of life.

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