Searching for travertines, calcretes and speleothems in deep time: Processes, appearances, predictions and the impact of plants

A T Brasier* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Common models for modern calcite precipitation in and around caves, soils, springs and streams involve CO2 supplied by thick, high pCO(2) biogenic soils which were probably thin or non-existent before vascular plants. Indeed plant-influenced chemical weathering might have caused accelerated terrestrial carbonate production from the Devonian onwards. However terrestrial carbonates have also been documented from the Archaean, Proterozoic, Cambrian, Ordovician and Silurian. Mechanisms which could have caused non-marine carbonates to precipitate without organic-rich soils are described, and some geological events likely to have influenced non-marine carbonate precipitation up to the origin of vascular plants are highlighted. As organisms have evolved, so have the petrographic characteristics of non-marine carbonates: some examples of this are also given here. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-239
Number of pages27
JournalEarth Science Reviews
Issue number4
Early online date4 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011

Bibliographical note

Helpful comments on an early draft of this manuscript were provided by Tony Fallick (SUERC), IGME gave permission to work in Greece. Tony Prave (St Andrews) and Martin Brasier (Oxford). Mike Simmons and Richard James (Neftex Petroleum) suggested some formations which might contain non-marine carbonates for Table 1. Dineke Brasier assisted with proof reading. The journal editors and reviewers provided helpful comments. ATB is supported by NERC grant NE/G00398X/1.


  • calcrete
  • travertine
  • speleothem
  • terrestrial vegetation
  • Palaeozoic
  • Precambrian
  • old red sandstone
  • pinus-sylvestris seedlings
  • carbonate platform growth
  • ordovician alluvial-fan
  • needle-fiber calcite
  • mammoth-hot-springs
  • land plants
  • middle ordovician
  • South-Australia
  • isotopic composition


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