Magnetofossils in the sediment of Lake Baikal, Siberia

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A multidisciplinary approach involving rock-magnetics, transmission electron microscopy, and X-ray diffraction was used to identify a biogenic magnetite component in the Lake Baikal, Siberia, sedimentary magnetic record. The distinctive biogenic component to the magnetic record occurs as chains of single-domain, elongate hexagonal and tear-drop cone-shaped magnetite particles. These magnetofossil s are inferred to be magnetosomes produced by magnetotactic bacteria living in the surficial sediment throughout Lake Baikal. Postdepositional reduction diagenesis results in the loss of the fine-grained magnetofossils at depth. In addition, this study shows that the fine-grained magnetofossils are removed by the process of storage diagenesis during long periods (21 months) of core storage, which results in a change to a coarser grained, slightly higher coercivity bulk magnetic mineral assemblage. Although the Lake Baikal sedimentary magnetic record has several distinct and complex components, by determining their origin this study has shown that the sediments are well suited for environmental magnetic study.

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Earth and Planetary Science Letters