Abiotic formation of organic biomorphs under diagenetic conditions - Sorbonne Université Access content directly
Journal Articles Geochemical Perspectives Letters Year : 2021

Abiotic formation of organic biomorphs under diagenetic conditions


The most ancient fossil record contains fundamentally important information on both the diversity and disparity of ancient life. Yet this ancient record is not that easy to decode, due to difficulties mainly pertaining to the impact of the geological history. Thus, the convergence of multiple lines of evidence is seen as necessary to build a robust demonstration of the biogenicity of putative traces of life. Yet, we experimentally show here that abiotic organic cell-like microstructures meeting all the criteria of biogenicity may form in cherts under classical conditions of diagenesis. These organic biomorphs produced from a mixture of RNA and quartz in water exposed to temperature and pressure conditions (200°C, ∼15 bars) exhibit morphological, chemical and isotopic signatures typical of organic microfossils. The results of this study exemplify the pitfalls that Archean palaeontologists may encounter when searching for traces of life in ancient rocks.


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Dates and versions

hal-03182092 , version 1 (26-03-2021)



I. Criouet, J.-C. Viennet, P. Jacquemot, M. Jaber, Sylvain Bernard. Abiotic formation of organic biomorphs under diagenetic conditions. Geochemical Perspectives Letters, 2021, 16, pp.40 - 46. ⟨10.7185/geochemlet.2102⟩. ⟨hal-03182092⟩
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