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Archean (3.33 Ga) microbe-sediment systems were diverse and flourished in a hydrothermal context

Frances Westall, Kathleen A. Campbell, Jean Gabriel Breheret, Frederic Foucher, Pascale Gautret, Axelle Hubert, Stephanie Sorieul, Nathalie Grassineau and Diego M. Guido
Archean (3.33 Ga) microbe-sediment systems were diverse and flourished in a hydrothermal context
Geology (Boulder) (July 2015) 43 (7): 615-618


Interacting, diverse microbe-sediment systems exist in natural environments today but have not yet been recognized in the oldest records of life on Earth (older than 3.3 Ga) because of lack of distinctive biomarker molecules and patchy preservation of microbial paleocommunities. In an in-situ outcrop- to microbial-scale study, we have differentiated probable phototrophic, chemolithotrophic, and chemo-organotrophic fossil microbial signatures in a nearshore volcanogenic sedimentary setting in 3.33 Ga rocks of the Josefsdal Chert, Barberton greenstone belt, South Africa, while demonstrating the importance of contemporaneous hydrothermal activity. Hydrothermal fluids, as a nutrient source, strongly controlled the development and distribution of the microbial communities and, as a silicifying agent, contributed to their rapid fossilization. We thus show that intricate microbe-sediment systems are deep-rooted in time and that at least some early life may indeed have been thermophilic.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 43
Serial Issue: 7
Title: Archean (3.33 Ga) microbe-sediment systems were diverse and flourished in a hydrothermal context
Affiliation: Centre de Biophysique Moleculaire, Orleans, France
Pages: 615-618
Published: 201507
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 24
Accession Number: 2015-093514
Categories: Stratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: GSA Data Repository item 2015215
Illustration Description: illus. incl. geol. sketch map
S35°00'00" - S22°00'00", E16°00'00" - E33°00'00"
Secondary Affiliation: GeoHydrosystemes Continentaux, FRA, FranceUniversite d'Orleans, FRA, FranceCentre d'Etudes Nucleaires de Bordeaux, FRA, FranceRoyal Holloway-University of London, GBR, United KingdomUniversidad Nacional de La Plata, ARG, Argentina
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201540
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