Microorganism-mediated preservation of Planolites, a common trace fossil from the Harkless Formation, Cambrian of Nevada, USA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Specimens of Planolites, a tubular ichnofossil, from the Harkless Formation (Cambrian of Nevada) are commonly rimmed by thin layers of limonite, a probable pseudomorph after pyrite, suggesting that bacterially induced biomineralization played a key role in the preservation of the burrows. Organic material secreted by a vermiform, infaunal tracemaker is inferred to have formed the substrate for a biofilm that facilitated iron sulfide biomineralization by bacteria under localized anaerobic or dysaerobic conditions. Rapid, microbially mediated biomineralization of mucus-lined burrow walls is inferred to have promoted three-dimensional preservation of burrows by strengthening them against sediment compaction, and possibly providing sufficient support for burrows to allow time for sediment infill. Decomposition of organic materials in Planolites also left evidence in sediment layers immediately above the burrows: undulose sediment surfaces and small, round, pimpleform gas escape structures. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Soo Yeun Ahn
  • Loren Babcock
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology


  • Trace fossil, Biofilm, Biomineralization, Taphonomy, Cambrian, Nevada
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-35
JournalSedimentary Geology
StatePublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch