Observations on pyritized graptolites have revealed a variety of pyrite morphotypes, several of which often coexist within the same fossil steinkern. The commonest forms of pyrite are those consisting of size-sorted microcrysts, which show degrees of ordering ranging from well-ordered framboids to a more homogeneous, unordered groundmass. Larger, euhedral pyrite crystals may be scattered throughout the microcrystalline groundmass, or be the dominant pyrite form in themselves. ‘Floriform’ pyrite frequently overgrows earlier framboids and may act to mould the inner periderm microstructure of the graptolite. Overpyrite occurs either as a primary ‘overspill’ of internal pyrite, or as a separate, later phase.
All of the diagenetic pyrite has light sulphur isotope compositions, indicating formation during early diagenesis; isotopic evidence of the relative timing of pyrite generations matches the morphological paragenesis. Under most conditions, available iron appears not to be a limiting factor in pyrite formation, with reactive organic matter only being limiting at the lowest concentrations encountered in these sediments. The availability of organic matter does, however, exert a control on the timing of fossil pyritization. At one locality, a change in diagenetic conditions has allowed for the formation of a morphologically late generation of pyrite with isotopically light and therefore apparently early diagenetic signatures.