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Open Access

Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Concretions, sandstone, carbonate cement, bacteria, microbialites, Morocco


Seven distinctly different museum-quality concretionary morphotypes of elongate, spheroidal, banded, botryoidal, columnar, rosette, and speleothem in regolith at two small sites at the base of the Meski Plateau near Erfoud, Morocco are described. Although most are isolated hand samples, the largest concretions are meter-sized blocks. Not one sample resembles any surrounding outcrop or bedrock. The barite rosettes formed first via periodic mixing of Ba2+/SO42- saturated solutions. They provided nuclei for cyclical precipitation-based concentric concretion development. The speleothem formed via precipitation from a carbonate-saturated solution in a large void within porous sandstone. The sand concretions formed when calcite precipitated around grains in unconsolidated quartz sands with cyclic fluctuation of Ca2+/CO32- saturated ground water. Petrographic analyses, stable isotope data, sample morphology, coupled with light and scanning electron microscopy indicate that microbial processes induced the periodic cement precipitation that produced the unique concretions.

First Advisor

Lynn Margulis