Bacterial mats play an important role in the sedimentation history of many marine biogenic regimes. Observations of the living mats suggest that in shallow waters they are dominated by photosynthetic cyanobacteria, while in deeper waters the mats are dominated by nonphotosynthetic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Fossilized remains of analogous mat structures from the Miocene Monterey Formation are commonly associated with oil-producing and phosphate-rich zones. Preliminary observations suggest that bacterial mats may be a source of the organic matter that in time is thermally altered to hydrocarbons.

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