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Synchrotron X-Ray Microanalysis and Imaging of Synthetic Biological Calcium Carbonate in Comparison With Archaeological Samples Originating from the Large Cave of Arcy-sur-Cure (28000-24500 BP, Yonne, France)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 September 2013

Emilie Chalmin*
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Polygone Scientifique Louis Neel -6, rue Jules Horowitz - 38000 Grenoble, France EDYTEM, UMR 5204 CNRS, Université de Savoie, Technolac, 73376 Le Bourget du Lac, France
Ina Reiche
Laboratoire d'Archéologie Moléculaire et Structurale (LAMS), UMR 8220 CNRS, University Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC) Paris VI, 75005 Paris, France
* Corresponding author. E-mail:


Biosynthetic calcite samples were investigated using combined synchrotron X-ray microspectroscopy mapping. These samples were prepared with bacteria isolated from the Large cave of Arcy-sur-Cure in which prehistoric figures are masked by an opaque calcite layer. The biotic or abiotic origin of this layer is the issue of the present work. As previously known, a large community of bacteria may be involved in the CaCO3 formation in caves. A mixture of calcite/vaterite was obtained from bacteria isolated from the cave. Therefore, we can offer conclusions on their calcifying capability. The rare presence of vaterite in cave environments may be treated as a marker of biotic carbonate formations. Moreover, an amorphous calcium phosphate phase was present in the form of a calcite/vaterite mixture in the biotic model samples. This mixture of phases could be used as a tracer of the biotic process of CaCO3 formation. These biotic tracer phases were not identified using the applied analytical methods in the natural samples taken from the opaque calcite layers that covered the prehistoric figures of the Large cave. In this case, based on the obtained results, the biotic calcite formation process is likely to be considered as an undetectable effect at minimum.

Biomedical and Biological Applications
Copyright © Microscopy Society of America 2013 

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Synchrotron X-Ray Microanalysis and Imaging of Synthetic Biological Calcium Carbonate in Comparison With Archaeological Samples Originating from the Large Cave of Arcy-sur-Cure (28000-24500 BP, Yonne, France)
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