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Ancient Domes Reveal 3.45-billion-year-old Life History on Earth

July 19, 2009
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Ancient, dome-like rock structures contain clues that life was active on Earth
3.45 billion years ago, according to new research — and the findings could help
shed light on life’s history on Earth and other planets, including Mars.

Rare, paleosurface view of how conical stromatolites would appear if one snorkeled in the shallows of a reef.  Credit: Abigail Allwood
dome- or column-like sedimentary rock structures formed in shallow water, layer
by layer, over long periods of geologic time.
have a biological origin; they’re formed with the help of layers of microbes
that grow in a thin film on the seafloor

“Raman spectroscopy showed that the organics had been ‘cooked’ to the same
burial temperature as the host rock, again indicating the organics are not young
team have collected enough evidence that it’s no longer a great leap to accept
the stromatolites as biological in origin. And the researchers say the
implications of the findings don’t stop at life on Earth
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