ISBN-10:
1402093888
ISBN-13:
9781402093883
Pub. Date:
05/28/2009
Publisher:
Springer Netherlands
Early Life on Earth: A Practical Guide / Edition 1

Early Life on Earth: A Practical Guide / Edition 1

by David Wacey

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402093883
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Publication date: 05/28/2009
Series: Topics in Geobiology , #31
Edition description: 2009
Pages: 274
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

David Wacey is a University Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia in Perth. He graduated with honours from Oxford University in 1998 and then undertook a D.Phil. investigating the geochemistry and microbiology of modern and ancient dolomite formation. It was during this time that he became interested in primitive microbes and how the earliest life on Earth may have arisen and evolved. On completion of his D. Phil he decided to concentrate his research on the earliest rocks found on Earth. After 12 years at Oxford he relocated to Western Australia where he now works on a number of problems relating to the recognition and understanding of the earliest signs of life of Earth. More information can be found here: http://cmca.uwa.edu.au/contact_directory

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Setting the scene, an introduction by Martin Brasier

Milestones in the search for early life on Earth

The Eozoon debate and the ‘Foraminosphere’

The Cyanosphere, phase 1

The Cyanosphere, phase 2

Implications

Recommended reading

PART A: Investigating life in early Archean rocks

1. What can we expect to find in the earliest rock record?

Introduction

1.1. Body fossils

1.2. Trace fossils

1.3. Chemical fossils

2. The difficulties of decoding early life

Introduction

2.1. Non-biological artefacts

2.2. Post-depositional contamination

2.3. The pros and cons of the ‘Principle of Uniformity’

2.4. A benchmark for microfossils and stromatolites

3. Establishing the criteria for early life on Earth

Introduction

3.1. Antiquity criteria

3.1.1. General antiquity criteria

3.1.2. Additional antiquity criteria specific to microfossils

3.1.3. Additional antiquity criteria specific to trace fossils

3.2. Biogenicity criteria

3.2.1. General biogenicity criteria

3.2.2. Additional biogenicity criteria specific to microfossils

3.2.3. Additional biogenicity criteria specific to trace fossils

3.3. The problem of stromatolites

4. Fulfilling the criteria for early life on Earth

Introduction

4.1. Where to look? – Archean cratons

4.1.1. Geology of the Pilbara craton

4.1.2. Geology of the Barberton greenstone belt, Kaapvaal craton

4.1.3. Geology of southwest Greenland

4.2. Typical rocks found in the early Archean that could host life

4.2.1. Chert

4.2.2. Pillow basalt

4.2.3. Sandstone

4.2.4. Hydrothermal deposits

5. Techniques for investigating early life on Earth

Introduction

5.1. Geological mapping

5.2. Radiometric dating

5.3. Optical microscopy

5.4. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)

5.5. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)

5.6. Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS and NanoSIMS)

5.7. Laser-Raman micro-spectroscopy

5.8. Near edge x-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy (NEXAFS) and electron energy loss spectrometry (EELS)

5.9. Synchrotron x-ray tomography

5.10. Atomic force microscopy (AFM)

5.11. Molecular fossils

5.12. Carbon isotopes

5.13. Sulphur isotopes

5.14. Other isotopic systems

Summary of techniques

Part B: An atlas of claims for early Archean life

Introduction

1. >3700 Ma, Isua Supracrustal Belt and Akilia Island, S.W. Greenland

2. ~3490 Ma, Dresser Formation, East Pilbara, Western Australia

Summary of claims for early life from this Formation

3. ~3470 Ma, Mount Ada Basalt, East Pilbara, Western Australia

4. ~3460 Ma, Apex Basalt, East Pilbara, Western Australia

5. ~3450 Ma, Hoogenoeg Formation, Barberton, South Africa

6. ~3450 Ma, Panorama Formation, East Pilbara, Western Australia

7. ~3400 Ma, Strelley Pool Formation, East Pilbara, Western Australia

Summary of claims of early life from this Formation

8. ~3416-3334 Ma, Kromberg Formation, Barberton, South Africa

9. ~3350 Ma, Euro Basalt, East Pilbara, Western Australia

10. ~3250 Ma, Fig Tree Group, Barberton, South Africa

11. ~3240 Ma, Kangaroo Caves Fm., East Pilbara, Western Australia

12. ~3200 Ma, Moodies Group, Barberton, South Africa

13. ~3200 Ma, Dixon Island Formation, West Pilbara, Western Australia

14. ~3000 Ma, Cleaverville Formation, West Pilbara, Western Australia

15. ~3000 Ma, Farrel Quartzite, East Pilbara, Western Australia

16. The Imposters. Younger biological contaminants and non-biological artefacts

Index

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