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Alteration textures in terrestrial volcanic glass and the associated bacterial community

Authors


Corresponding author: Charles S. Cockell, Tel.: +44 (0)1908 652588; fax: +44 (0)1908 858022; e-mail: c.s.cockell@open.ac.uk

ABSTRACT

Alteration textures were examined in subglacial (hyaloclastite) deposits at Valafell, Southern Iceland. Pitted and ‘elongate’ alteration features are observed in the glass similar to granular and tubular features reported previously in deep-ocean basaltic glasses, but elongate features generally did not have a length to width ratio greater than five. Elongate features were found in only 7% of surfaces. Crystalline basalt clasts, which are incorporated into the hyaloclastite, did not display elongate structures. Pitted alteration features were poorly defined in crystalline basalt, comprising only 4% of the surface compared to 47% in the case of basaltic glass. Examination of silica-rich glass (obsidian) and rhyolite similarly showed poorly defined pitted textures that comprised less than 15% of the surface and no elongate features were observed. These data highlight the differences in alteration textures between terrestrial basaltic glass and previously studied deep-ocean and subsurface basaltic glass, and the important role of mineralogy in controlling the type and abundance of alteration features. The hyaloclastite contains a diverse and abundant bacterial population, as determined by 16S rDNA analysis, which could be involved in weathering the glass. Despite the presence of phototrophs, we show that they were not involved in the production of most alteration textures in the basaltic glass materials we examined.

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