Stromatolites, Organic-Walled Microorganisms, Laser Raman Spectroscopy, and Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy of the Meso-Neoproterozoic Buxa Formation, Ranjit Window, Sikkim Lesser Himalaya, NE India

  • Vinod Chandra TewariEmail author
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 18)


The Buxa Dolomite, a Meso-Neoproterozoic formation composed largely of stromatolitic cherty carbonate, is well developed in the Ranjit River section, south and west Sikkim, NE Lesser Himalaya. The formation is particularly well exposed in the Ranjit Tectonic Window of Sikkim, where its ∼800-m-thick stratigraphic sequence has been studied in great detail. The assemblage of stromatolites recorded from exposures in the Ranjit Window is diverse, including Colonnella columnaris, Conophyton garganicus, C. cylindricus, Gymnosolen ramsayi, Kussiella kussiensis, Minjaria uralica, and forms assigned to Aldania, Baicalia, Boxonia, Colleniella, Collumnaefacta, Jurusania, Nucleella, and Stratifera. Diverse Neoproterozoic microfossils are also known from bedded carbonaceous Buxa cherts in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, where they include numerous coccoidal taxa, occurring both as isolated cells and in colonies (Eogloeocapsa, Eosynechococcus, Glenobotrydion, Huronispora, Myxococcoides, Palaeoanacystis, and Paratetraphycus); filamentous fossils, both cellular trichomes and microbe-encompassing cylindrical sheaths (Archaeotrichion, Cephalophytarion, Obruchevella, Oscillatoriopsis, Palaeolyngbya, ­Polythrichoides, Siphonophycus, Veteronostocale, and Volyniella); and diverse acritarchs ­(Archaeohystrichosphaeridium, Granomarginata, Leiosphaeridia, Lophosphaeridium, Margominuscula, Melanocyrillium, Micrhystridium, Navifusa, Trachysphaeridium, Trachyhystrichosphaera, and Vandalosphaeridium). Coupled with optical microscopic studies, Raman spectroscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) of ­selected microfossils from the Buxa cherts of the Ranjit Window document their three-dimensional preservation and carbonaceous (kerogenous) composition. The earlierstudy by Schopf et al. (Astrobiology 8(4): 735–746, 2008) and the present additional investigations, based on a minute amount of fossiliferous rock – two thin sections, ­having a total area of 5 cm2 (less than that of a US postage stamp), a volume of 0.04 cm3 (less than half a grain of rice) and a weight of only ∼0.1 g shows that even a minuscule amount of rock can contain definitive evidence of ancient life. The astrobiological implication of the present study has been discussed.


Stromatolites Buxa Dolomite Organic-walled microfossils Laser Raman spectroscopy Confocal laser scanning microscopy Meso-Neoproterozoic Lesser Himalaya India Sikkim Paleobiology Depositional environment Tidal flat Oolites Kerogen Permineralized Raman Preservation Index Isotopes Astrobiology 



I am grateful to Professor J.W. Schopf, A.B. Kudryavtsev, and J. Shen-Miller for discussions and helpful comments on the manuscript. The research on Laser Raman Spectroscopy and the Confocal Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) presented here was carried out at the IGPP Center for the Study of Evolution and the Origin of Life (CSEOL) at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, in 2007. I thank CSEOL for providing support for my research visit to UCLA in 2007 as a Visiting Scientist, and in 2008, for participation in the World Summit on Ancient Microscopic Fossils as a member of the Organizing Committee. Dr. B.R. Arora, Director, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, India, is thanked for facilities and permission to publish the chapter. Shri Girish Chauhan is thanked for ably typing the manuscript and fixing the figures. The Journal Astrobiology is thanked for granting permission to reproduce some figures and matter earlier published by us.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wadia Institute of Himalayan GeologyDehradunIndia

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