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  • Huvudmeny

Terrestrialization of the Biosphere and Geochemical Fingerprints of Ancient Life

Photo: Vivi Vajda

Cave with stromatolites and stalagtites in Diamantina, Brazil.

Summary

This project aims to detect and characterize the presence of fossilized life in the Earth’s rock record by combining methods and perspectives from geology, biology and chemistry. For instance, the massive and rapid colonization of the desolate terrestrial environment by plants most definitely affected the composition of the atmosphere and its balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

By integrating palynological data with geochemical results, the biotic and environmental changes during the terrestrialization phase on Earth can be used to increase our understanding of early faunal and floral advances and interactions in the terrestrial realm.

Our primary strategy is to characterize fossilized organic matter. These biomarkers are expected to identify specific categories of life and will help us understand the complexity and evolutionary history of, for instance, primitive vascular plants, and the relationships and affinities of various organisms based on their molecular fingerprints.

We also work with geological processes related to asteroid impacts and volcanism. Our tools are raman spectroscopy, Fourier Transfer Infrared Microscopy (FTIR), light microscopy and SEM.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAhvTBe1KhIexternal link

This research is funded by the Swedish Research Council (VR)

External Project Participants

Adriana Ocampo (researcher), NASA HQ Washington

Claudia Rubenstein (researcher), Conicet, Argentina

Phillippe Steemans (researcher), Liege University, Belgium

Emma Hammarlund (researcher), Lund University

Anders Englund (researcher), Lund University, MAXLAB

Selected Publications

Peterffy, O., Calner, M. & Vajda, V., 2016. Early Jurassic cyanobacterial mats - a potential response to reduced biotic activity in the aftermath of the Triassic mass extinction event. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 464: 76–85.

Vajda, V., Ocampo, A., Ferrow, E. & Bender Koch, C., 2015. Nano particles as the primary cause for long-term sunlight suppression at high southern latitudes following the Chicxulub impact –evidence from ejecta deposits in Belize and Mexico Gondwana Research 27: 1079–1088.

Qu, Y., Engdahl, A., Zhu, S., Vajda, V., McLoughlin, N., 2015. Ultrastructural Heterogeneity of Carbonaceous Material in Ancient Cherts: Investigating Biosignature Origin and Preservation. Astrobiology 15 (10)

Badawy, A.S., Mehlqvist, K, Vajda, V., Ahlberg, P. & Calner, M., 2014. Late Ordovician (Katian) spores in Sweden – oldest land plant remains from Baltica. GFF Scandinavian Journal of Earth Sciences 136: 16–21

Mehlqvist, K., Vajda, V. & Steemans, P., 2012. Early land plant spore assemblages from the Late Silurian of Skåne, Sweden. GFF 134: 133–144.

Vajda, V., Larsson, L., Frisk, Å. 2009. Ekosystemen reser sig ur askan - livet efter asteroidnedslag på jorden. Populär Astronomi 1: 12–16.