Late Archean molecular fossils from the Transvaal Supergroup record the antiquity of microbial diversity and aerobiosis

Jacob R. Waldbauer, Laura S. Sherman, Dawn Y. Sumner, Roger E. Summons*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    119 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Cores recovered during the Agouron Griqualand Drilling Project contain over 2500 m of well-preserved late Archean Transvaal Supergroup sediments, dating from ca. 2.67 to 2.46 Ga. Bitumen extracts of these strata were obtained using clean drilling, sampling and analysis protocols that avoided overprinting syngenetic molecular fossil signatures with contaminant hydrocarbons. Comparisons of biomarker contents in stratigraphically correlated intervals from diverse lithofacies in two boreholes separated by 24 km, as well as across a ∼2 Gyr unconformity, provide compelling support for their syngenetic nature. The suite of molecular fossils identified in the late Archean bitumens includes hopanes attributable to bacteria, potentially including cyanobacteria and methanotrophs, and steranes of eukaryotic origin. This molecular fossil record supports an origin in the Archean Eon of the three Domains of cellular life, as well as of oxygenic photosynthesis and the anabolic use of O2.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-47
    Number of pages20
    JournalPrecambrian Research
    Volume169
    Issue number1-4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

    Keywords

    • Archean
    • Biomarker
    • Molecular fossil
    • Oxygen
    • Sterane
    • Transvaal
    • Triterpane

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Late Archean molecular fossils from the Transvaal Supergroup record the antiquity of microbial diversity and aerobiosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this