Rhynie Chert: Geological Significance


As well as the palaeontological and palaeobotanical significance of the Rhynie chert konservat lagerstätte, there are also other aspects of this unique deposit that are important to geologists.

At 400 million years old, the Rhynie chert is the earliest known, unequivocal, metalliferous, siliceous hot spring deposit that preserves surface 'sinters' and evidence of geyser activity. Hot spring deposits, and particularly their surface expressions, are relatively rare in the rock record. As such the Rhynie chert and its associated sedimentary rocks gives geologists one of the few examples of an ancient hot spring complex.

The Rhynie chert is also important to geologists in understanding the processes through which organisms may be included in the fossil record; such as taphonomy (processes affecting organic remains after death and prior to burial), biostratinomy (processes affecting organic remains during deposition and burial) and diagenesis (processes affecting the rocks and their included organic remains after burial). For example, studying this deposit and the preservation of its biota helps in an understanding of the processes of silicification and how silica can preserve organic remains.