Allwood, Abigail C. and Grotzinger, John P. and Knoll, Andrew H. and Burch, Ian W. and Anderson, Mark S. and Coleman, Max L. and Kanik, Isik (2009) Controls on development and diversity of Early Archean stromatolites. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106 (24). pp. 9548-9555. ISSN 0027-8424 http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20090731-114526170
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The ≈3,450-million-year-old Strelley Pool Formation in Western Australia contains a reef-like assembly of laminated sedimentary accretion structures (stromatolites) that have macroscale characteristics suggestive of biological influence. However, direct microscale evidence of biology—namely, organic microbial remains or biosedimentary fabrics—has to date eluded discovery in the extensively-recrystallized rocks. Recently-identified outcrops with relatively good textural preservation record microscale evidence of primary sedimentary processes, including some that indicate probable microbial mat formation. Furthermore, we find relict fabrics and organic layers that covary with stromatolite morphology, linking morphologic diversity to changes in sedimentation, seafloor mineral precipitation, and inferred microbial mat development. Thus, the most direct and compelling signatures of life in the Strelley Pool Formation are those observed at the microscopic scale. By examining spatiotemporal changes in microscale characteristics it is possible not only to recognize the presence of probable microbial mats during stromatolite development, but also to infer aspects of the biological inputs to stromatolite morphogenesis. The persistence of an inferred biological signal through changing environmental circumstances and stromatolite types indicates that benthic microbial populations adapted to shifting environmental conditions in early oceans.
|Additional Information:||© 2009 National Academy of Sciences. Contributed by John P. Grotzinger, April 14, 2009 (received for review February 6, 2009). Published online before print June 10, 2009. We thank the Geological Survey of Western Australia for generous field support, Malcolm Walter and Arthur Hickman for helpful discussions, George Rossman for use of Caltech Raman Laboratory, and Dawn Sumner and Ian Fairchild for helpful reviews. Fieldwork was partly supported by the Agouron Institute. A.C.A. was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Postdoctoral Program. The work of A.C.A., M.S.A., M.L.C., and I.K. was conducted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory under contract to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (with Research and Technology Program/Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets funding). This contribution is part of the special series of Inaugural Articles by members of the National Academy of Sciences elected in 2002.|
|Subject Keywords:||microbe; paleontology; biosignature; carbonate; reef|
|Usage Policy:||No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.|
|Deposited By:||Jason Perez|
|Deposited On:||07 Aug 2009 16:01|
|Last Modified:||26 Dec 2012 11:07|
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