Journal article

Mineralogical Biosignatures and the Search for Life on Mars

Jillian F Banfield, John W Moreau, Clara S Chan, Susan A Welch, Brenda Little



If life ever existed, or still exists, on Mars, its record is likely to be found in minerals formed by, or in association with, microorganisms. An important concept regarding interpretation of the mineralogical record for evidence of life is that, broadly defined, life perturbs disequilibria that arise due to kinetic barriers and can impart unexpected structure to an abiotic system. Many features of minerals and mineral assemblages may serve as biosignatures even if life does not have a familiar terrestrial chemical basis. Biological impacts on minerals and mineral assemblages may be direct or indirect. Crystalline or amorphous biominerals, an important category of mineralogical biosignature..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

This paper was developed following a NASA-sponsored workshop on biosignatures held in San Diego, CA, in 2000 and organized by John Kerridge. Patricia Dove is thanked for providing Fig. 1, and John Kerridge and David McKay are thanked for their contributions to discussions. Funding to support the collection of original data included in this article was provided by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (JPL), the Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Program, and the National Science Foundation (EAR).