[ Back to EurekAlert! ]

PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
28-Aug-2013

[ | E-mail ] Share Share

Contact: Kea Giles
kgiles@geosociety.org
Geological Society of America

GSA Today science: Biofilms, MISS, and stromatolites

Sept. GSA Today

IMAGE: This image shows actively growing, subtidal stromatolites north of Carbla Point, Shark Bay, Western Australia. The individual build-ups are separated by areas of rippled, bare sand. The sand is not...

Click here for more information.

Boulder, Colorado, USA – In the September issue of GSA Today, Nora Noffke of Old Dominion University and Stan Awramik of the University of California, Santa Barbara, describe the interaction of carpet-like communities of benthic microorganisms (biofilms) with sediment dynamics at the sediment-water interface to form distinctive sedimentary structures called microbialites.

The best known microbialite structures are stromatolites -- multilayered microbialites up to meters in thickness, built up by repetitive binding, biostabilization, baffling, and trapping of sediment particles by microorganisms, coupled with carbonate precipitation. In the absence of such precipitation, however, these processes result in the formation of very characteristic microbially induced sedimentary structures, or "MISS," best seen on sediment surfaces.

Both stromatolites and MISS are first found in the early Archean, more than three billion years ago, recording highly evolved microbial activity quite early in Earth's history. Whereas the stromatolites show enormous morphologic and taxonomic variation, MISS have remained essentially unchanged with time. MISS may be the older relative, but due to the paucity of well-preserved sedimentary rocks older than three billion years, the origin of both stromatolites and MISS remains uncertain.

###

ARTICLE

Stromatolites and MISS—Differences between relatives

N. Noffke, Old Dominion University, Dept. of Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Norfolk, Virginia, 23529, USA, nnoffke@odu.edu; and S.M. Awramik, University of California, Dept. of Earth Science, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA, awramik@geol.ucsb.edu. v. 23, no. 9, p. 4–9, doi: 10.1130/GSATG187A.1.

GSA Today articles are open access online; for a print copy, please contact Kea Giles. Please discuss articles of interest with the authors before publishing stories on their work, and please make reference to GSA Today in articles published.



[ Back to EurekAlert! ] [ | E-mail Share Share ]

 


AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.