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The role of volcanic-derived clays in the preservation of Ediacaran biota from the Itajaí Basin (ca. 563 Ma, Brazil)

  • Becker-Kerber, Bruno1, 2
  • El Albani, Abderrazak2
  • Konhauser, Kurt3
  • Abd Elmola, Ahmed2
  • Fontaine, Claude2
  • Paim, Paulo S. G.4
  • Mazurier, Arnaud2
  • Prado, Gustavo M. E. M.5
  • Galante, Douglas6
  • Kerber, Pedro B.7
  • da Rosa, Ana L. Z.8
  • Fairchild, Thomas R.5
  • Meunier, Alain2
  • Pacheco, Mírian L. A. F.9, 10
  • 1 Universidade Federal de São Carlos, Washington Luiz, 325km, São Carlos, SP, 13565-905, Brazil , São Carlos (Brazil)
  • 2 University of Poitiers, Poitiers, 86073, France , Poitiers (France)
  • 3 University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada , Edmonton (Canada)
  • 4 Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, São Leopoldo, RS, 93022-750, Brazil , São Leopoldo (Brazil)
  • 5 Universidade de São Paulo, Rua do Lago, 562, Cidade Universitária, São Paulo, SP, 05508-080, Brazil , São Paulo (Brazil)
  • 6 Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials, Av. Giuseppe Maximo Scolfaro, 10000, Campinas, CEP 13083-100, Brazil , Campinas (Brazil)
  • 7 Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso do Sul, Cidade Universitária, Av. Costa e Silva-Pioneiros, Campo Grande, CEP 79070-900, Brazil , Campo Grande (Brazil)
  • 8 Petrobras, Santos, SP, Brazil , Santos (Brazil)
  • 9 Universidade Federal de São Carlos-Campus Sorocaba, Rod. João Leme dos Santos km 110, Sorocaba, CEP 18052-780, Brazil , Sorocaba (Brazil)
  • 10 Universidade de São Paulo, Rua do Matão, Travessa R 187, São Paulo, CEP 05508-090, Brazil , São Paulo (Brazil)
Published Article
Scientific Reports
Springer Nature
Publication Date
Mar 03, 2021
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-84433-0
Springer Nature


The early evolution of metazoans has been reconstructed by studies on exceptionally preserved molds in siliciclastic rocks from the Ediacaran Period. However, there remains considerable controversy regarding the formation mechanisms of this unusual ‘Ediacaran-style’ preservation. Proposed hypotheses usually include early authigenesis of minerals, but evidence for this is scarce. In a recently discovered deposit of Ediacaran biota in Brazil, we show that the classic moldic preservation is related to clay mineral authigenesis. Specifically, these clays originated from the alteration of original pyroclastic sediments, likely enhanced by microbial activity, leading to early illitization and morphological templating of the fossiliferous surfaces at a micrometric scale. Such high-fidelity preservation was made possible by rapid burial during volcanic events and the in-situ templating of tissue by clays via microbially-mediated mineralization. This newly described Lagerstätte demonstrates that a number of minerals can facilitate preservation, and that perhaps ‘Ediacaran-style’ preservation result from different processes leading to the same broad style of preservation.

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