Abstract

Spheroidal and filamentous organic-walled microfossils have been detected in ca. 1.7 Ga old cherts of the Hornby Bay Group, Northwest Territories, Canada. The majority of the spheroidal forms range from 1 to 4 μm in diameter, are referable to the genus Sphaerophycus, and probably represent the preserved sheaths of chroococcacean cyanophytes. A single, robust-walled, 27 μm diameter, spheroidal microfossil of undetermined affinity is also present. The filamentous forms are tubular, unbranched, and range from 1 to 8 μm in diameter. They appear to represent the preserved sheaths of nostocalean cyanophytes or filamentous bacteria. The filaments illustrate the relationship between matrix mineralogy and the fidelity of preservation of organic-walled microfossils. Where they occur in silica the filaments are preserved as three-dimensional tubular micro-structures, which are readily recognized as microfossils. In contrast, where they extend from silica into adjacent dolomite they are highly compressed and not readily discernable as microfossils. This compression appears to have been caused by aggrading neomorphism and pressure dissolution of the carbonate minerals, and it illustrates the contribution of diagenesis, in addition to decomposition of organic material, in causing the paucity of microfossils in Precambrian carbonate rocks.

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