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Nature 284, 443 - 445 (03 April 1980); doi:10.1038/284443a0

Stromatolites 3,400–3,500 Myr old from the North Pole area, Western Australia

M. R. Walter*, R. Buick & J. S. R. Dunlop

*Precambrian Paleobiology Research Group, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California, 90024
Department of Geology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia

Stromatolites are the least controversial evidence of early life; they are organosedimentary structures resulting from the growth and metabolic activity of microorganisms1. Before this report, however, the oldest well established occurrence was in the 2,900–3,000 Myr Pongola Supergroup of South Africa2; five or six additional occurrences are known from the later Archean3. The only proposed example from older rocks is of a possibly stromatolitic microfabric from 3,500 Myr cherts in South Africa4; as yet that interpretation has not been supported by the discovery of macroscopic stromatolites. Here we describe stromatolites 3,400–3,500-Myr old from the Pilbara Block of Western Australia. These are the oldest firmly established biogenic deposits now known from the geological record.

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