Friday, September 23, 2016

Evidence of Terrestrial Life From Archean Paleosols


Retallack et al


Coastal-plain paleosols in the 3.0 Ga Farrel Quartzite of Western Australia have organic surface (A horizon) and sulfate-rich subsurface (By) horizons, like soils of the Atacama Desert of Chile, Dry Valleys of Antarctica, and 3.7 Ga paleosols of Mars. Farrel Quartzite paleosols include previously described microfossils, permineralized by silica in a way comparable with the Devonian Rhynie Chert, a well known permineralized Histosol. Five microfossil morphotypes in the Farrel Quartzite include a variety of spheroidal cells (Archaeosphaeroides) as well as distinctive large spindles (new genus provisionally assigned to cf. Eopoikilofusa). Previously published cell-specific carbon isotopic analyses of the Farrel Quartzite microfossils, and unusually abundant sulfate considering a likely anoxic atmosphere, allow interpretation of these morphotypes as a terrestrial community of actinobacteria, purple sulfur bacteria, and methanogenic Archaea.

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