Impact-generated endolithic habitat within crystalline rocks of the haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canada

Pontefract, Alexandra, Osinski, Gordon R., Cockell, Charles S., Moore, Casey A., Moores, John E. and Southam, Gordon (2014) Impact-generated endolithic habitat within crystalline rocks of the haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canada. Astrobiology, 14 6: 522-533. doi:10.1089/ast.2013.1100


Author Pontefract, Alexandra
Osinski, Gordon R.
Cockell, Charles S.
Moore, Casey A.
Moores, John E.
Southam, Gordon
Title Impact-generated endolithic habitat within crystalline rocks of the haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canada
Journal name Astrobiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1531-1074
1557-8070
Publication date 2014-06-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1089/ast.2013.1100
Volume 14
Issue 6
Start page 522
End page 533
Total pages 12
Place of publication New Rochelle, NY United States
Publisher Mary Ann Liebert
Language eng
Abstract The colonization of rocks by endolithic communities is an advantageous trait, especially in environments such as hot or cold deserts, where large temperature ranges, low water availability, and high-intensity ultraviolet radiation pose a significant challenge to survival and growth. On Mars, similar conditions (albeit more extreme) prevail. In these environments, meteorite impact structures could provide refuge for endolithic organisms. Though initially detrimental to biology, an impact event into a rocky body can favorably change the availability and habitability of a substrate for endolithic organisms, which are then able to (re)colonize microfractures and pore spaces created during the impact. Here, we show how shocked gneisses from the Haughton impact structure, Devon Island, Canada, offer significant refuge for endolithic communities. A total of 28 gneiss samples representing a range of shock states were analyzed, collected from in situ, stable field locations. For each sample, the top centimeter of rock was examined with confocal scanning laser microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and bright-field microscopy to investigate the relationship of biomass with shock level, which was found to correlate generally with increased shock state and particularly with increased porosity. We found that gneisses, which experienced pressures between 35 and 60 GPa, provide the most ideal habitat for endolithic organisms.
Keyword Endoliths
Gneiss.
Impact cratering
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Earth Sciences Publications
Official 2015 Collection
 
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