GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 158-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-1:00 PM


MANNING-BERG, Ashley1, LAM, Elizabeth Kathleen1, RIEDMAN, Leigh Anne2 and GOMES, Maya3, (1)Department of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, 615 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37403, (2)Department of Earth Science, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, (3)Johns Hopkins UniversityEarth and Planetary Science, 3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21218-2625

Information stored within the microbial fossil record is readily altered by taphonomic processes that can occur prior to preservation, specifically biological decomposition. Although these taphonomic changes obscure the interpretation of ancient microbial ecosystems, actualistic taphonomy experiments provide insight into what information is lost during biological decomposition and have recently been used to identify decomposition patterns. The resulting decomposition pathways can be observed in ancient microbial mat environments. Actualistic experiments have been limited to lab-grown monocultures, and therefore cannot be used to describe the entire ecosystem. Here we present a taphonomic analysis of a modern microbial mat from Little Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos Island to establish the “starting taphonomy” of a mat ecosystem. This study was performed on images of the various layers of the microbial mat. We also focused primarily on the filamentous and coccoidal microorganisms observed in the mat as they are easiest to compare to previous actualistic experiments.