Modern carbonate microbialites from an asbestos open pit pond, Yukon, Canada

Ian Power, Siobhan Wilson, Gregory Dipple, Gordon Southam

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Microbialites were discovered in an open pit pond at an abandoned asbestos mine near Clinton Creek, Yukon, Canada. These microbialites are extremely young and presumably began forming soon after the mine closed in 1978. Detailed characterization of the periphyton and microbialites using light and scanning electron microscopy was coupled with mineralogical and isotopic analyses to investigate the mechanisms by which these microbialites formed. The microbialites are columnar in form (cm scale), have an internal spherulitic fabric (mm scale), and are mostly made of aragonite, which is supersaturated in the subsaline pond water. Initial precipitation is seen as acicular aragonite crystals nucleating onto microbial biomass and detrital particles. Continued precipitation entombs benthic diatoms (e.g. Brachysira vitrea), filamentous algae (e.g. Oedogonium sp.), dinoflagellates, and cyanobacteria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180 - 195
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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