2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
Paper No. 56-11
Presentation Time: 4:45 PM-5:00 PM

A (CYANO-)BACTERIAL ECOSYSTEM IN THE ARCHEAN 3.49 GA DRESSER FORMATION, PILBARA, WESTERN AUSTRALIA

NOFFKE, Nora1, CHRISTIAN, Daniel R.1, and HAZEN, Robert M.2, (1) Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University, 4600, Elkhorn Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23529, nnoffke@odu.edu, (2) Geophysical Laboratory and NASA Astrobiology Institute, Carnegie Institution of Washington, 5251 Broad Branch rd NW, Washington, DC 20015

The Dresser Formation includes the oldest well preserved sediments in Earth history. Evaporitic, carbonatic and clastic sediments record a peri-marine setting in which a shallow subtidal zone, a tidal flat, a lagoon, and a sabkha can be distinguished. Stromatolites, wrinkle mats, and a variety of MISS record a high diversity of life for this early Archean time.

In the shallow subtidal zone, microbial mats developed simple stromatolites. The famous wrinkle mats grew in an evaporate-rich tidal sabkha environment. Some of the stromatolite-like upheavals in this area are here reinterpreted as petees. Polygonal oscillation cracks and gas domes, typical for tidal sabhkas, occur as well.

In the tidal flats, microbial mats produced ooids and oncoids. Fenestrate laminae record gas accumulation between coherent, EPS-rich microbial mats, which sometimes form up to a meter thick biolaminites. In clastic areas of the tidal flats, erosional remnants and pockets were formed. Here, microbial mat chips are scattered at random on the tidal surface. Sometimes they are accumulated to small piles. The chips may be deposited top-up or top-down. Some are rolled-up. Non-transparent wrinkle structures occur. In situ preserved microbial mats in tidal pools may show tufts on their surfaces. In the subtidal area, ripple marks are lined by sinoidal structures.

A lagoon was overgrown by significant biolaminites of up to 3m thicknesses. Mat chips are frequent here as well. The black-white laminae may record biovarvites. The biovarvites may reflect seasonal variations of the microbial populations.

In conclusion, stromatolites, wrinkle mats, and the various MISS in the Dresser succession show the same facies associations like the equivalent structures in the Archean, the Neoproterozoic, the Phanerozoic, and the present. This correlation points to a high diversity of mat-forming bacteria already in the antique world of the Dresser Formation. The presence of simple cyanobacteria is likely.

2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis (912 October 2011)
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 56
New Horizons in Precambrian Palynology and Paleobiology
Minneapolis Convention Center: Room 205CD
1:30 PM-5:30 PM, Sunday, 9 October 2011

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 43, No. 5, p. 159

© Copyright 2011 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.