Microscopy and microanalysis : the official journal of Microscopy Society of America, Microbeam Analysis Society, Microscopical Society of Canada

Using cathodoluminescence spectroscopy of cretaceous calcareous microfossils to distinguish biogenic from early-diagenetic calcite.

PMID 23164215


A comparative cathodoluminescence (CL) spectroscopic study of extraordinarily well-preserved versus diagenetically altered Turonian (∼92 Ma before present) calcitic and aragonitic microfossils was performed to document the cathodoluminescence characteristics of two common Cretaceous carbonate producers, foraminifera and calcareous dinoflagellates. Unaltered specimens reveal a conspicuous peak in the blue CL band at ≈ 400 nm that has rarely been previously reported for biogenic carbonates. We interpret this luminescence as an indicative feature of the primary bio-mineralized shells of calcareous dinoflagellates and foraminifera. Orange luminescence as the second important CL emission band (≈ 620 nm) in calcite generally increases with diagenetic cement overgrowth and recrystallization but can also be present in unaltered material. Thus, orange CL of biogenic calcite is not an unequivocal diagenetic indicator. Accordingly, spectroscopic investigation of both the ≈ 400 and ≈ 620 nm peaks represents a more objective criterion to evaluate the degree of diagenetic alteration. The ratio of relative intensities of the blue CL versus orange CL can provide a semiquantitative measure with relative intensity ratios blue:orange >2 occurring in the least diagenetically altered microfossils. Comparison of unaltered specimens of separate species reveals elemental differences that potentially indicate species-specific biomineralization or habitats.