1932

Abstract

Microbialites provide geological evidence of one of Earth's oldest ecosystems, potentially recording long-standing interactions between coevolving life and the environment. Here, we focus on microbialite accretion and growth and consider how environmental and microbial forces that characterize living ecosystems in Shark Bay and the Bahamas interact to form an initial microbialite architecture, which in turn establishes distinct evolutionary pathways. A conceptual three-dimensional model is developed for microbialite accretion that emphasizes the importance of a dynamic balance between extrinsic and intrinsic factors in determining the initial architecture. We then explore how early taphonomic and diagenetic processes modify the initial architecture, culminating in various styles of preservation in the rock record. The timing of lithification of microbial products is critical in determining growth patterns and preservation potential. Study results have shown that all microbialites are not created equal; the unique evolutionary history of an individual microbialite matters.

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2024-01-17
2024-04-25
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