Biogenicity of amorphous organic matter and bacteriomorph acritarchs preserved in wrinkle structures from the Ediacaran Cíjara Formation, Spain

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Establishing the biogenicity of sedimentary surface textures with unresolved microbial origin is critical to any environmental and geobiological interpretation of clastic settings. Here, some Ediacaran wrinkle structures and associated carbonaceous greywacke samples containing mat fragments rich in ‘bacteriomorph acritarchs’ are investigated. Their biogenicity was evaluated with transmitted light and scanning electron microscopy, epifluorescence and Raman spectroscopy, and confirmed by the presence of distinct cyanobacterial biomarkers. The comparison of results yielded by these techniques validates the use of Raman spectroscopy on Neoproterozoic kerogen (organic-walled microfossils and amorphous organic material) under low metamorphic conditions. Raman spectrographs also allowed recognition of associated rare-earth element-rich phosphate (monazite) and subsidiary metal sulphide concentrations, and interpreted as a result of biosorption and/or mat trapping under normal oxic conditions. These microbial mat features represent cyanobacterial bloom-forming Bavlinella acritarchs, which characterise eutrophic episodes in a semi-enclosed retroarc basin sandwiched between an active Cadomian arc and West Gondwana.