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Morphological adaptations of 3.22 Ga-old tufted microbial mats to Archean coastal habitats (Moodies Group, Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa)

Homann, M; Heubeck, C; Airo, A; Tice, MM; (2015) Morphological adaptations of 3.22 Ga-old tufted microbial mats to Archean coastal habitats (Moodies Group, Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa). Precambrian Research , 266 pp. 47-64. 10.1016/j.precamres.2015.04.018. Green open access

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Abstract

Microbial life was well established and widespread by the Paleoarchean; however, the degree of evolutionary advancement such as microbial motility, intra- and inter-species interactions, phototropism, or oxygenic photosynthesis by that time remains highly debated. The 3.22 Ga Moodies Group in the Barberton Greenstone Belt (BGB, South Africa) are Earth's oldest well-preserved siliciclastic tidal deposits. They exhibit a unique assemblage of microbial mats, providing an excellent opportunity to decipher the morphological adaptations of microbial communities to different paleoenvironmental settings. The fossil mats are preserved as kerogenous laminations (0.5–1 mm thick) that can be traced laterally for ∼15 km in a ∼1000 m-thick succession of fine- to coarse-grained tidal sandstones and conglomerates. We here present a detailed stratigraphic and depositional facies analysis, documenting the association of the three principal mat morphotypes with specific environmental settings: (1) planar-type in coastal floodplain, (2) wavy-type in intertidal, and (3) tufted-type in upper inter- to supratidal facies. All mat types indicate a flourishing phototrophic biota; moreover, the tufted morphology suggests an intricate level of coordinated growth commonly known from cyanobacterial mats in modern environments.

Type: Article
Title: Morphological adaptations of 3.22 Ga-old tufted microbial mats to Archean coastal habitats (Moodies Group, Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.precamres.2015.04.018
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.precamres.2015.04.018
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Archean, South Africa, Moodies Group, Early life, Tufted microbial mats, Photosynthesis
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10083038
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