Lithostratigraphic analysis of a new stromatolite–thrombolite reef from across the rise of atmospheric oxygen in the Paleoproterozoic Turee Creek Group, Western Australia

E. Barlow, Martin Van Kranendonk, K. E. Yamaguchi, M. Ikehara, A. Lepland

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Abstract

This study describes a previously undocumented dolomitic stromatolite–thrombolite reef complex deposited within the upper part (Kazput Formation) of the c. 2.4–2.3 Ga Turee Creek Group, Western Australia, across the rise of atmospheric oxygen. Confused by some as representing a faulted slice of the younger c. 1.8 Ga Duck Creek Dolomite, this study describes the setting and lithostratigraphy of the 350-m-thick complex and shows how it differs from its near neighbour. The Kazput reef complex is preserved along 15 km of continuous exposure on the east limb of a faulted, north-west-plunging syncline and consists of 5 recognisable facies associations (A–E), which form two part regressions and one transgression. The oldest facies association (A) is characterised by thinly bedded dololutite–dolarenite, with local domical stromatolites. Association B consists of interbedded columnar and stratiform stromatolites deposited under relatively shallow-water conditions. Association C comprises tightly packed columnar and club-shaped stromatolites deposited under continuously deepening conditions. Clotted (thrombolite-like) microbialite, in units up to 40 m thick, dominates Association D, whereas Association E contains bedded dololutite and dolarenite, and some thinly bedded ironstone, shale and black chert units. Carbon and oxygen isotope stratigraphy reveals a narrow range in both δ13Ccarb values, from −0.22 to 0.97‰ (VPDB: average = 0.68‰), and δ18O values, from −14.8 to −10.3‰ (VPDB), within the range of elevated fluid temperatures, likely reflecting some isotopic exchange. The Kazput Formation stromatolite–thrombolite reef complex contains features of younger Paleoproterozoic carbonate reefs, yet is 300–500 Ma older than previously described Proterozoic examples worldwide. Significantly, the microbial fabrics are clearly distinct from Archean stromatolitic marine carbonate reefs by way of containing the first appearance of clotted microbialite and large columnar stromatolites with complex branching arrangements. Such structures denote a more complex morphological expression of growth than previously recorded in the geological record and may link to the rise of atmospheric oxygen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-343
Number of pages27
JournalGeobiology
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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