Composition and Microfacies of Archean Microbial Mats (Moodies Group, ca. 3.22 Ga, South Africa)
Published:January 01, 2012
Antonia Gamper, Christoph Heubeck, Dieter Demske, Marek Hoehse, 2012. "Composition and Microfacies of Archean Microbial Mats (Moodies Group, ca. 3.22 Ga, South Africa)", Microbial Mats in Siliciclastic Depositional Systems Through Time, Nora Noffke, Henry Chafetz
Download citation file:
The Middle Archean Moodies Group (ca. 3.22 Ga), Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa, exposes one of the world’s oldest ecosystems. It includes kerogen-rich laminae and thin chert bands interbedded with coarse-grained and gravelly sandstones. The strata record a medium-energy, tidal coastal environment. Analyses of the microscopic structure and chemical composition of the chert bands through petrographic microscopy, Raman microspectroscopy, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) analyses, C isotopes, and scanning electron microscope (SEM) photography of macerated material, supported by textural observations of hand samples, suggest that these laminae represent variably compressed and early-silicified microbial mats.
Internal wavy laminations, amorphous carbon composition, and negative δ13C values strongly imply a biogenic origin. Complete HF maceration of chert bands revealed polygonal cell structures in a formerly extracellular polymeric substance matrix. The tuft- and dome-micromorphology of the laminations resembles that of recent photosynthetic filament-dominated microbial mats. Facies interpretations indicate that microbial mats extensively colonized subtidal to intertidal Archean siliciclastic coastlines.
Figures & Tables
Microbial Mats in Siliciclastic Depositional Systems Through Time
The research field on microbial mats in siliciclastic environmental settings has greatly developed since its establishment by studies of pioneering scientists such as Gisela Gerdes, Wolfgang Krumbein, Jürgen Scheiber, David Bottjer and others. This SEPM Special Publication is the result of the SEPM Research Conference on Sandy Microbial Mats (modern and ancient), which was held in May 21-23, 2010 at Dinosaur Ridge, Denver, Colorado, USA. This volume presents peer reviewed individual case studies on microbial mats and on sedimentary structures (often called “microbially induced sedimentary structures-MISS”) that occur in modern and ancient marine and terrestrial environments. The conference brought together sedimentologists, microbiologists, and paleontologists from 30 countries and all five continents.