Letter | Published:

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

Naturevolume 284pages443445 (1980) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

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.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Walter, M. R. in Stromatolites (ed. Walter, M. R.) 1–3 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1976).

  2. 2

    Mason, T. R. & Von Brunn, V. Nature 266, 47–49 (1977).

  3. 3

    Walter, M. R. in Archaean Cherty Metasediments : Their Sedimentology, Micropalaeontology, Biogeochemistry, and Significance to Mineralization (eds Glover, J.E. & Groves, D.I.) 1–10 (Publications of the Geology Department and Extension Service, University of Western Australia, 2, 1978).

  4. 4

    Muir, M. D. & Grant, P. R. in The Early History of the Earth (ed. Windley, B.F.) 595–604 (Wiley, New York, 1976).

  5. 5

    Cloud, P. E. Geol. Soc. S. Afr. Annex. Vol. 79 (1976).

  6. 6

    Schopf, J. W. Endeavour 34, 51–58 (1975).

  7. 7

    Dunlop, J. S. R., Muir, M. D., Milne, V. A. & Groves, D. I. Nature 274, 676–678 (1978).

  8. 8

    Knoll, A. H. & Barghoorn, E. S. Science 198, 396–398 (1977).

  9. 9

    Muir, M. D., Grant, P.R., Bliss, G. M., Diver, W. L. & Hall, D. O. in Chemical Evolution of the Early Precambrian (ed. Ponnamperuma, C.) 155–170 (Academic, New York, 1977).

  10. 10

    Pflug, H. D. Naturwissenschaften 65, 611–615 (1978); Oberhessische Naturw. Z. 44, 131–145 (1978).

  11. 11

    Pflug, H. D. & Jaeschke-Boyer, H. Nature 280, 483–486 (1979).

  12. 12

    Nagy, B., Zumberge, J. E. & Nagy, L. A. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 72, 1206–1209 (1975).

  13. 13

    Schopf, J. W. Origins of Life 7, 19–36 (1976).

  14. 14

    Cloud, P. E. & Morrison, K. Precamb. Res. 9, 81–91 (1979).

  15. 15

    Lambert, I. B., Donnelly, T. H., Dunlop, J. S. R. & Groves, D. I. Nature 276, 808–811 (1978).

  16. 16

    Monster, J., et al. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta. 43, 405–413 (1979).

  17. 17

    Schidlowski, M. Origins of Life 9, 299–311 (1979).

  18. 18

    Schidlowski, M., Appel, P. W. U., Eichmann, R. & Junge, C. E. Geochim. cosmochim. Acta 43, 189–199 (1979).

  19. 19

    Perry, E. C. & Ahmad, S. N. Earth planet. Sci. Lett. 36, 280–284 (1977).

  20. 20

    Reimer, T. O., Barghoorn, E. S. & Margulis, L. Precamb. Res. 9, 93–104 (1979).

  21. 21

    Miller, S. L. & Orgel, L. E. The Origins of Life on Earth (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1974).

  22. 22

    Dunlop, J. S. R. thesis, Univ. Western Australia (1976).

  23. 23

    Dunlop, J. S. R. & Groves, D. I. Geol. Soc. Am. Abstr. Prog. 10, 393.

  24. 24

    Barley, M. E., Dunlop, J. S. R., Glover, J. E. & Groves, D. I. Earth planet. Sci. Lett. 43, 74–84 (1979).

  25. 25

    Dunlop, J. S. R. in Archaean Cherty Metasediments: Their Sedimentology, Micropalaeontology, Biogeochemistry, and Significance to Mineralization (eds. Glover, J.E. & Groves, D.I.) 30–38 (Publications of the Geology Department and Extension Service, University of Western Australia, 2, 1978).

  26. 26

    Hickman, A. H. & Lipple, S. L. Explanatory Notes for Marble Bar 1:250 000 Sheet (Geol. Surv. W. Austral., 1978).

  27. 27

    Pidgeon, R. T. Earth planet. Sci. Lett. 37, 421–428 (1978).

  28. 28

    Walter, M. R. in Stromatolites (ed. Walter, M. R.) 687–692 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1976).

  29. 29

    Walter, M. R. (ed.) Stromatolites (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1976).

  30. 30

    Purser, B. H. & Loreau, J. P. in The Persian Gulf (ed. Purser, B. H.) 343–376 (Springer, Berlin, 1973).

  31. 31

    Walter, M. R., Bauld, J. & Brock, T. D. Science 178, 402–405 (1972).

  32. 32

    Doemel, W. N. & Brock, T. D. Science 184, 1083–1085 (1974); Appl. envir. Microbiol. 34, 433–452 (1977).

  33. 33

    Walter, M. R. in Stromatolites (ed. Walter, M. R.) 489–498 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1976).

  34. 34

    Monty, C. L. V. in Stromatolites (ed. Walter, M. R.) 193–249 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1976).

  35. 35

    Brock, T. D. in Stromatolites (ed. Walter, M. R.) 141–148 (Elsevier, Amsterdam, 1976).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Precambrian Paleobiology Research Group, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California, 90024

    • M. R. Walter
  2. Department of Geology, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Australia

    • R. Buick
    •  & J. S. R. Dunlop

Authors

  1. Search for M. R. Walter in:

  2. Search for R. Buick in:

  3. Search for J. S. R. Dunlop in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Issue Date

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/284443a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.