Microbial remains in some earliest Earth rocks: Comparison with a potential modern analogue

Glikson, Miryam, Duck, Lawrence J., Golding, Suzanne D., Hofmann, Axel, Bolhar, Robert, Webb, Robyn, Baiano, Justice C. F. and Sly, Lindsay I. (2008) Microbial remains in some earliest Earth rocks: Comparison with a potential modern analogue. Precambrian Research, 164 3-4: 187-200. doi:10.1016/j.precamres.2008.05.002

Author Glikson, Miryam
Duck, Lawrence J.
Golding, Suzanne D.
Hofmann, Axel
Bolhar, Robert
Webb, Robyn
Baiano, Justice C. F.
Sly, Lindsay I.
Title Microbial remains in some earliest Earth rocks: Comparison with a potential modern analogue
Journal name Precambrian Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0301-9268
Publication date 2008-07-30
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.precamres.2008.05.002
Volume 164
Issue 3-4
Start page 187
End page 200
Total pages 14
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2009
Language eng
Subject C1
040204 Organic Geochemistry
970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences
0402 Geochemistry
0403 Geology
0605 Microbiology
Formatted abstract
Carbonaceous matter (CM) from ca. 3.5 Ga hydrothermal black cherts of the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia and the Barberton Greenstone Belt of South Africa yielded transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images that are suggestive of microbial remains and possible remnants of microbial cell walls. These are compared to a potential modern analogue, the hyperthermophilic Methanocaldococcus jannaschii, derived from an active seafloor hydrothermal environment and cultured under similar conditions. A striking resemblance to the early Archaean forms was evident in wall structure and thermal degradation mode. Cell disintegration of the cultures occurred at 100 °C marking the limits of life. Complete disintegration, deformation and shrinkage occurred at 132 °C. A multidisciplinary approach to the characterisation of the CM was undertaken using organic petrology, TEM coupled with electron dispersive spectral analysis (EDS), high resolution TEM (HRTEM) to determine molecular ordering, and elemental and carbon isotope geochemistry. Reflectance measurements of the CM to determine thermal stress yielded a range of values corresponding to several populations, and pointing to different sources and processes. The δ13C values of Dresser Formation CM (−36.5 to −32.1‰) are negatively correlated with TOC (0.13–0.75%) and positively correlated with C/N ratio (134–569), which is interpreted to reflect the relative abundance of high Ro/oxidised/recycled CM and preferential loss of 12C and N during thermal maturation. TEM observations, inferred carbon isotopic heterogeneity and isotope fractionations of −27 to −32‰ are consistent with the activity of chemosynthetic microbes in a seafloor hydrothermal system where rapid silicification at relatively low temperature preserved the CM. Copyright © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keyword Archaean
Pilbara Craton
Barberton greenstone belt
Carbonaceous matter
Methanocaldococcus jannaschii
Transmission Electron Microscopy
Carbon isotopes
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

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Created: Mon, 30 Mar 2009, 10:26:44 EST by Glenda Chown on behalf of Faculty of Science