3:30 PM - 3:45 PM
[BAO01-06] Syntheses of organic matter and Fe-oxides by aerobic Fe-oxidizing bacteria in a deep ocean ~3.45 Ga ago
The major findings and their interpretations from this study include: (a) The intricate nano-scale features of the interface between the OM-rich layers and the underlying minerals suggest that the microbial mats were biochemically bonded to the minerals, rather than simply settling on the minerals; (b) The d13C values (-35 to -21‰) of the kerogens suggest that the kerogens were composed with two populations of primary producers: one that utilized CO2 via the Calvin-Benson cycle for C-fixation (e.g., cyanobacteria, FeOB, sulfide-OB) and the other involved in the CH4 related cycle (e.g., methanogens, methanotrophs); (c) Sub-nano- to nano-scale (<0.5 nm – 100 µm) morphologies and chemistries of organic matter (OM) and associated Fe-oxides (mostly hematite) in the MBC closely resemble those of modern aerobic chemolithotrophic FeOB; (d) The close association of nano-crystals of barite with the “microfossils” of FeOB suggests the local production of SO4 by sulfide-OB; and (e) The d34S values (-4 to +1‰) of pyrite crystals in the benthic mats suggest the activity of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB).
Based on the above data we suggest that: (1) Microbial mats in the MBC developed at the interface between CO2- and O2-rich bottom ocean water and the underlying unconsolidated cherts which were invaded by low-temperature, Fe2+- and H2S-bearing hydrothermal fluids; (2) Although oxygenic photoautotrophs (cyanobacteria) had evolved by ~3.45 Ga, the involvement of cyanobacteria in the formation of benthic mats in the MBC is unlikely. This is because cyanobacteria could not have been active in the deep (dark) ocean, and the remnants of cyanobacteria in the photic zone could not have accumulated on the deep seafloor (>2,000m) with widely variable thickness in centimeter to meter scales; and (3) The microbial mats were comprised of various autotrophs (primary producers) and heterotrophs. The primary producers were mostly aerobic chemolithotrophic FeOB with minor sulfide-oxidizing bacteria (sulfide-OB) and methanotrophs, and the heterotrophs were mostly Fe-reducing bacteria (FeRB), sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), and methanogens. They imply that the global oceans and the atmosphere were already fully oxidized at ~3.45 Ga and the diverse microbial world had evolved by ~3.5 Ga. Our findings of the presence of negative- and positive Ce anomalies and the Y/Ho ratios (up to ~120) of the host cherts also support these implications.