Fernández Remolar, D. C., Harir, M., Carrizo, D., Schmitt kopplin, P., Amils, P. 2018. Productivity Contribution of Paleozoic Woodlands to the Formation of Shale-Hosted Massive Sulfide Deposits in the Iberian Pyrite Belt (Tharsis, Spain). Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences 123, 3, 1017-1040, DOI: 10.1002/2017JG004144
The geological materials produced during catastrophic and destructive events are an essential source of paleobiological knowledge. The paleobiological information recorded by such events can be rich in information on the size, diversity, and structure of paleocommunities. In this regard, the geobiological study of late Devonian organic matter sampled in Tharsis (Iberian Pyrite Belt) provided some new insights into a Paleozoic woodland community, which was recorded as massive sulfides and black shale deposits affected by a catastrophic event. Sample analysis using TOF-SIMS (Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer), and complemented by GC/MS (Gas Chromatrograph/Mass Spectrometer) identified organic compounds showing a very distinct distribution in the rock. While phytochemical compounds occur homogeneously in the sample matrix that is composed of black shale, the microbial-derived organics are more abundant in the sulfide nodules. The cooccurrence of sulfur bacteria compounds and the overwhelming presence of phytochemicals provide support for the hypothesis that the formation of the massive sulfides resulted from a high rate of vegetal debris production and its oxidation through sulfate reduction under suboxic to anoxic conditions. A continuous supply of iron from hydrothermal activity coupled with microbial activity was strictly necessary to produce this massive orebody. A rough estimate of the woodland biomass was made possible by accounting for the microbial sulfur production activity recorded in the metallic sulfide. As a result, the biomass size of the late Devonian woodland community was comparable to modern woodlands like the Amazon or Congo rainforests.