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Proceedings Paper

Carbonaceous structures in the Tissint Martian Meteorite: evidence of a biogenetic origin
Author(s): Jamie Wallis; N. C. Wickramasinghe; Daryl H. Wallis; Nori Miyake; M. K. Wallis; Richard B. Hoover
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Paper Abstract

We report for the first time in situ observations of 5-50μm spherical carbonaceous structures in the Tissint Martian meteorite comprising of pyrite (FeS2) cores and carbonaceous outer coatings. The structures are characterized as smooth immiscible spheres with curved boundaries occasionally following the contours of the pyrite inclusion. The structures bear striking resemblance to similar-sized immiscible carbonaceous spheres found in hydrothermal calcite vein deposits in the Mullaghwornia Quarry in central Ireland. Similar structures have been reported in Proterozoic and Ordovician sandstones from Canada as well as in a variety of astronomical sources including carbonaceous chondrites, chondritic IDPs and primitive chondritic meteorites. SEM and X-Ray elemental mapping confirmed the presence of organic carbon filling the crack and cleavage space in the pyroxene substrate, with further evidence of pyrite acting as an attractive substrate for the collection of organic matter. The detection of precipitated carbon collecting around pyrite grains is at variance with an igneous origin as proposed for the reduced organic component in Tissint, and is more consistent with a biogenetic origin.

Paper Details

Date Published: 22 September 2015
PDF: 20 pages
Proc. SPIE 9606, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XVII, 96060K (22 September 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2186507
Show Author Affiliations
Jamie Wallis, Cardiff Univ. (United Kingdom)
N. C. Wickramasinghe, The Univ. of Buckingham (United Kingdom)
Daryl H. Wallis, The Univ. of Buckingham (United Kingdom)
Nori Miyake, The Univ. of Buckingham (United Kingdom)
M. K. Wallis, The Univ. of Buckingham (United Kingdom)
Richard B. Hoover, The Univ. of Buckingham (United Kingdom)
Athens State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9606:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XVII
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert V. Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; Nalin C. Wickramasinghe, Editor(s)

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