Dating billion year old rocks

"There are slightly older claims of life in rocks in Greenland – but the rocks there have been so deformed that it is very difficult to tell if what you are seeing was actually there in the first place.

With these microbial systems in the Pilbara, you can see these things in the field and under the microscope.

We are also seeing organic material which are the actual microbes but they are decomposed to the point that we cannot see an actual cell.

You just see a mass of carbon-rich material." The team of scientists from Australia and the United States believes the findings may help with the search for life on other planets.

The study authors wrote, "In fact, despite the 1.88-Gyr-long geological history that they experienced, Kakabeka Falls [outcrop] and Schreiber Beach [outcrop] organic microfossils exhibit C- and N-XANES spectra sharing strong similarities to those of modern cyanobacteria and modern micro-algae." They apparently used the word "despite" to acknowledge the disparity between the rocks' evolutionary age expectations and the presence of original biochemicals.

Many chert-rich rocks experienced temperatures high enough to bake any biochemicals.

These microbes thrived in a shallow sea bathing a still young and fresh Earth, according to a study in this week’s “What we’ve done is produce something tangible,” Nutman says, “an actual fossil record (that is) evidence for life at those times.”The researchers “were able to see evidence for life in a way that I had never expected,” says Texas A&M University’s Michael Tice, who was not associated with the study.

“We have a much better window back in time, thanks to what these folks did.”The fossil was discovered in a barren stretch of Greenland that researchers have patiently explored for some three decades.

If confirmed, the date would support the theory that life took root in just a blink of an eye after the planet’s birth.

Rock researchers highly regard Ontario's Gunflint chert for its fresh-looking microfossils.

Long ago, the chert's microcrystalline quartz grains embedded microscopic single-celled creatures, including algae.

You can see how the bacteria were interacting with the sediment they were living on." Professor Wacey said it was no longer possible to see the actual cells, but the scientists had discovered the marks left behind by large clusters, or mats, of microbes.

The traces were discovered in a body of rock called the Dresser Foundation, near the town of Port Hedland.


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