Stromatolites

Source: Houston Museum of Natural Science

Stromatolites are layered mounds or sheet-like layers of sedimentary rock that were originally forced by growing on a layer of cyanobacteria, a single-cell microbe. Fossilized stromatolites provide a record of ancient life and tidal patterns on Earth.

Millions of years ago, seas all over the world would resemble the picture above, which was taken from Shark Bay, Australia. This unique pattern was created through a process of accumulation of calcium carbonate and the depletion of carbon dioxide in the water.

Cyanobacteria, which resulted in the creation of stromatolites, were one of the first organisms on Earth. Certain kinds of cyanobacteria are 3.7 billion years old. They produced oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, which made it possible for more complex life forms to evolve in our oceans.

One thought on “Stromatolites

  1. It’s very interesting how stromatolites can allow us to know the historical tide record. It’s also worth noting that stromatolites, in order to grow, need to accumulate more mass. The way they accumulate this mass is actually the process of tides itself, per this study: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781119218395.ch9 . Stromatolites are important in a number of archeological ways, but they are especially well suited for understanding the tidal record thanks to their unique properties.

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