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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor David Harper

Topper, Timothy P., Greco, Francesco, Hofmann, Axel, Beeby, Andrew & Harper, David A.T. (2018). Characterization of kerogenous films and taphonomic modes of the Sirius Passet Lagerstätte, Greenland. Geology 46(4): 359-362.

Author(s) from Durham


The Sirius Passet Lagerstätte (northern Greenland) is an exceptionally well-preserved early Cambrian faunal community containing a diverse array of stem-group euarthropods, lobopodians, worms, sponges, and the iconic Halkieria. Material collected in situ during recent expeditions has yielded a range of fossil specimens that are preserved as two-dimensional, reflective films. Here we document in detail, for the first time from the Sirius Passet, compressed, kerogenous fossil films characteristic of Burgess Shale–type (BST) preservation. The carbon structure and the taphonomic mode associated with these films were investigated using Raman spectroscopy. Our analysis confirms that these reflective films are kerogenous, showing a higher D1 (disordered) band and G (graphite) band intensity and area, indicating a greater concentration of disordered carbon compared to the surrounding matrix. The spectral characteristics of the fossils denote moderately ordered kerogenous matter, indicating that the transitional Buen Formation that hosts the Sirius Passet was thermally altered at a peak temperature of 409 ± 50 °C. Phyllosilicate minerals are associated with the films, but they are not anatomical or taxon-specific, suggesting that the higher thermal maturation of the kerogen in the Sirius Passet produced a uniform distribution of minerals. This is unlike the kerogenous films in the Burgess Shale Lagerstätte (British Columbia, Canada) that have been metamorphosed at a lower temperature of 335 ± 50 °C and typically show an anatomically specific phyllosilicate distribution. Preservation as kerogenous films, however, is not continuous, and the presence of other taphonomic modes not indicative of BST preservation suggests that the Sirius Passet represents a unique and complex deposit.