Earliest signs of life on land preserved in ca. 3.5 Ga hot spring deposits

Tara Djokic, Martin Van Kranendonk, Kathleen A. Campbel, Malcolm R. Walter, Colin R. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The ca. 3.48 Ga Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton, Western Australia, is well known for hosting some of Earth's earliest convincing evidence of life (stromatolites, fractionated sulfur/carbon isotopes, microfossils) within a dynamic, low-eruptive volcanic caldera affected by voluminous hydrothermal fluid circulation. However, missing from the caldera model were surface manifestations of the volcanic-hydrothermal system (hot springs, geysers) and their unequivocal link with life. Here we present new discoveries of hot spring deposits including geyserite, sinter terracettes and mineralized remnants of hot spring pools/vents, all of which preserve a suite of microbial biosignatures indicative of the earliest life on land. These include stromatolites, newly observed microbial palisade fabric and gas bubbles preserved in inferred mineralized, exopolymeric substance. These findings extend the known geological record of inhabited terrestrial hot springs on Earth by ∼3 billion years and offer an analogue in the search for potential fossil life in ancient Martian hot springs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15263
JournalNature Communications
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Hot springs
Hot Springs
calderas
volcanology
Deposits
geysers
deposits
sulfur isotopes
carbon isotopes
hydrothermal systems
cratons
vents
fossils
bubbles
Sulfur Isotopes
analogs
Earth (planet)
Geysers
fluids
Carbon Isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Cite this

Earliest signs of life on land preserved in ca. 3.5 Ga hot spring deposits. / Djokic, Tara; Van Kranendonk, Martin; Campbel, Kathleen A.; Walter, Malcolm R.; Ward, Colin R.

In: Nature Communications, Vol. 8, 15263, 01.01.2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Djokic, Tara ; Van Kranendonk, Martin ; Campbel, Kathleen A. ; Walter, Malcolm R. ; Ward, Colin R. / Earliest signs of life on land preserved in ca. 3.5 Ga hot spring deposits. In: Nature Communications. 2017 ; Vol. 8.
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