Iridium Anomaly in the Upper Devonian of the Canning Basin, Western Australia

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Science  26 Oct 1984:
Vol. 226, Issue 4673, pp. 437-439
DOI: 10.1126/science.226.4673.437


A moderate iridium anomaly, about 20 times the local background, has been found in Upper Devonian rocks in the Canning Basin. It occurs at or near the Frasnian-Famennian boundary, which is known to be associated with a major massextinction event of global extent. The anomaly occurs in an extremely condensed limestone sequence laid down under quiet deepwater conditions. Its occurrence suggests a causal link with some form of meteoroid impact. Moreover, carbon isotope data indicate that a large reduction in biomass could have occurred at this level. However, the anomaly coincides with a stromatolite bed containing the fossil cyanobacterium Frutexites; iridium, platinum, iron, manganese, cobalt, arsenic, antimony, and cerium are preferentially concentrated in filaments of this organism, with concentrations ranging from two to five times that of the matrix. It is possible that Frutexites extracted these elements directly from seawater, without the need for their derivation from an extraterrestrial source.