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Raman and SEM analysis of a biocolonised hot spring travertine terrace in Svalbard, Norway

By Susana E. Jorge Villar, L.G. Benning, Howell G.M. Edwards and AMASE team

Abstract

A profile across 8 layers from a fossil travertine terrace from a low temperature geothermal spring located in Svalbard, Norway has been studied using both Raman spectroscopy and SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) techniques to identify minerals and organic life signals.\ud Calcite, anatase, quartz, haematite, magnetite and graphite as well as scytonemin, three different carotenoids, chlorophyll and a chlorophyll-like compound were identified as geo- and biosignatures respectively, using 785 and/or 514 nm Raman laser excitation wavelengths. No morphological biosignatures representing remnant microbial signals were detected by high-resolution imaging, although spectral analyses indicated the presence of organics. In contrast, in all layers, Raman spectra identified a series of different organic pigments indicating little to no degradation or change of the organic signatures and thus indicating the preservation of fossil biomarker compounds throughout the life time of the springs despite the lack of remnant morphological indicators.\ud With a view towards planetary exploration we discuss the implications of the differences in Raman band intensities observed when spectra were collected with the different laser excitations. We show that these differences, as well as the different detection capability of the 785 and 514 nm laser, could lead to ambiguous compound identification. We show that the identification of bio and geosignatures, as well as fossil organic pigments, using Raman spectroscopy is possible. These results are relevant since both lasers have been considered for miniaturized Raman spectrometers for planetary exploration

Topics: Ramon Spectroscopy, ; Scanning Electron Microscopy; SEM, ; Travertine terrace, ; Hot springs, ; Minerals, ; Organic life signatures, ; Planetary exploration methods
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:bradscholars.brad.ac.uk:10454/2305
Provided by: Bradford Scholars
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