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The organic stratigraphy of Ontong Java Plateau Tuff correlated with the depth‐related presence and absence of putative microbial alteration structures

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Graham Purvis, Dr Cees van der Land, Dr Naoko Sano, Dr Elisa Lopez-Capel, Emeritus Professor Neil GrayORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2019.

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Structures in geological samples are often interpreted as fossilised life; however, such interpretations are equivocal, as abiotic processes can be invoked to explain their presence. Thus, additional lines of chemical evidence are invaluable in confirming or refuting such morphological evidence. Glass shards in tuff from the Ontong Java Plateau (OJP) contain microtubular structures that are in close proximity to functionalised nitrogen substituted aromatic compounds that may be indicative of the chemical remnants of biological activity. The organic composition of the OJP tuff containing microtubular alteration structures was compared with tuff without such features. In addition, organic matter associated with horizons with compacted remnants of woody material buried in the OJP tuff and overlying pelagic calcareous foraminifer sediment were also characterised, to ascertain the provenance of the organic matterfound in the OJP tuff. As a further control, the organic material in submarine and terrestrialbasalts from other locations were also characterised providing further evidenceto support the view that the organic matter in the OJP tuff is authigenic.Carbon–nitrogen chemistry was detected across all OJP tuff samples irrespective ofthe presence or absence of microtubular features, but was not detected in either thewood material, the overlying pelagic sediments or in the basalts from other locations.The results indicate no direct link between the OJP nitrogenous organic compoundsand the presence or absence of microtubular features.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Purvis G, van der Land C, Sano N, Cockell C, Barlow A, Cumpson P, Lopez-Capel E, Gray N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geobiology

Year: 2019

Volume: 17

Issue: 3

Pages: 281-293

Print publication date: 01/05/2019

Online publication date: 07/12/2018

Acceptance date: 30/10/2018

Date deposited: 11/01/2019

ISSN (print): 1472-4677

ISSN (electronic): 1472-4669

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/gbi.12326


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