2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


JAGNIECKI, Elliot Andrew1, BENISON, Kathleen Counter1 and MORMILE, Melanie R.2, (1)Geology, Central Michigan University, 314 Brooks Hall, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859, (2)Biological Sciences, University of Missouri - Rolla, 105 Schrenk Hall, Rolla, MO 65409, jagni1ea@cmich.edu

“Hairy blobs”, unique and unusual clumps of crystals and microbes, are entrapped in modern halite and gypsum from at least two ephemeral acid saline lakes in Western Australia. They are dark, up to 1mm in diameter, have long, sometimes kinked “hairs”, and are found in both fluid inclusions and as solid inclusions within halite and as solid inclusions within gypsum. Scanning electron microscopy suggests microbial characteristics associated with crystals, such as lumpy-bumpy textures, meniscus features, and hollow tubes. These modern “hairy blobs” show similarities to those previously documented in Permian halite from the Opeche Shale of North Dakota. Permian “hairy blobs” are only found associated with primary fluid inclusions possessing negative pH values. Laser Raman spectroscopy of Permian “hairy blobs” shows a disordered graphite signature. Modern and Permian “hairy blobs” have only been found in halite and gypsum from acid saline lakes. They may represent acidophilic Bacteria or Archaea contributing to the mineralogy and water geochemistry. Furthermore, “hairy blobs” could potentially be used to interpret past and modern acidic conditions in other evaporites. These microbial bodies may give clues about life in other extreme environments, including those on Mars.