Geoscience Meets Biology: Raman Spectroscopy in Geobiology and Biomineralization

Geobiologists attempt to answer such questions as: when and under what conditions did life begin, how can we verify biogenicity in the geologic record, and what governs the relation between the living world and the mineral world? Raman spectroscopy can characterize and identify both organic and inorganic phases, typically nondestructively, at the (sub-)micrometer scale and, thereby, can provide key information to tackle these questions. This article illustrates contributions that Raman spectroscopy has made to understanding mineralization processes in mollusks, corals, and bones. Raman spectroscopy can also be used in the search for earliest terrestrial life and life on other planets. Some challenges for the three Raman instruments to be deployed on Mars are discussed.

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