Terminal Proterozoic mid-shelf benthic microbial mats in the Centralian Superbasin and their environmental significance

Graham A. Logan*, Clive R. Calver, Paul Gorjan, Roger E. Summons, John M. Hayes, Malcolm R. Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


A combined sedimentological and biogeochemical study has been conducted on several Terminal Proterozoic mid-shelf microbial mat facies from the Centralian Super-basin. Isotopic and organic geochemical analysis of the bitumen and kerogen indicated that two sources of organic matter from 'planktonic' and 'benthic microbial-mat' populations contributed to the sediment. The 'planktonic' source provided a suite of n-alkanes with <C20 predominance and the odd n-alkanes >C20, whereas, the 'benthic' source contributed an overlay of n-alkanes >C20 with a strong even preference, together with mid-chain methyl alkanes. Kerogen and biomarkers derived from the microbial mat were found to be depleted in 13C relative to planktonic material. Pyrite in the microbial mats was also found to be depleted in 34S compared to surrounding facies. The combination of these observations suggested that the mats may have been at least partly composed of sulfide oxidising bacteria. These organisms have specific environmental tolerances that set limits on palaeo-environment. Their requirement for oxygen indicates that the water column above the mid-shelf could not have been anoxic. Accordingly, from the results and age determinations reported here, it would appear that mid-shelf environments of the Centralian Superbasin of Australia were seeing significant levels of oxygen through the Ediacarian.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1345-1358
Number of pages14
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - May 1999


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