Mineralogical Identification of Traces of Life

  • Karim BenzeraraEmail author
  • Sylvain Bernard
  • Jennyfer Miot
Part of the Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics book series (ASTROBIO)


Many organisms impact mineral nucleation and growth. This results in the formation of biominerals with chemical, structural and textural properties providing clues to their biogenicity. However, ageing modifies these properties to some extent. Moreover, some abiotic processes form minerals with similar properties. Therefore, decoding traces of life in minerals requires caution, and one prerequisite is a reliable estimation of the geochemical conditions under which a biomineral formed. Here we discuss several examples of biominerals which illustrate these different ideas.



Karim Benzerara was supported by funding from the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013 Grant Agreement no. 307110—ERC CALCYAN). Sylvain Bernard was supported by funding from the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013 Grant Agreement no. 161764—ERC PaleoNanoLife—PI: F. Robert). Jennyfer Miot was supported by funding from the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR SRB project, grant ANR-14-CE33-0003-01). The SEM facility of the IMPMC is supported by Région Ile de France grant SESAME 2006 N°I-07-593/R, INSU/CNRS, UPMC-Paris 6, and by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR grant No. ANR-07-BLAN-0124-01. We thank Sebastien Charron and Imene Esteve for their expert support of the SEM at IMPMC. The TEM facility at IMPMC is supported by Région Ile de France grant SESAME 2000 E 1435. We thank Jean-Michel Guigner for his expert support of the TEM at IMPMC.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karim Benzerara
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sylvain Bernard
    • 1
  • Jennyfer Miot
    • 1
  1. 1.Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Sorbonne Université, UMR CNRS 7590, IRD, Institut de Minéralogie, de Physique des Matériaux et de CosmochimieParisFrance

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