0000-0003-3103-3019 (Noffke)

Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title







e12601 (1-17)


While stromatolites, and to a lesser extent thrombolites, have been extensively studied in order to unravel Precambrian (>539 Ma) biological evolution, studies of clastic-dominated microbially induced sedimentary structures (MISS) are relatively scarce. The lack of a consolidated record of clastic microbialites creates questions about how much (and what) information on depositional and taphonomic settings can be gleaned from these fossils. We used μCT scanning, a non-destructive X-ray-based 3D imaging method, to reconstruct morphologies of ancient MISS and mat textures in two previously described coastal Archaean samples from the ~3.48 Ga Dresser Formation, Pilbara, Western Australia. The aim of this study was to test the ability of μCT scanning to visualize and make 3D measurements that can be used to interpret the biotic–environmental interactions. Fossil MISS including mat laminae with carpet-like textures in one sample and mat rip-up chips in the second sample were investigated. Compiled δ¹³C and δ³⁴S analyses of specimens from the Dresser Fm. are consistent with a taxonomically diverse community that could be capable of forming such MISS. 3D measurements of fossil microbial mat chips indicate significant biostabilization and suggest formation in flow velocities >25 cm s¹. Given the stratigraphic location of these chips in a low-flow lagoonal layer, we conclude that these chips formed due to tidal influence, as these assumed velocities are consistent with recent modeling of Archaean tides. The success of μCT scanning in documenting these microbialite features validates this technique both as a first step analysis for rare samples prior to the use of more destructive techniques and as a valuable tool for gaining insight into microbialite taphonomy.


© 2024 The Authors.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.

Data Availability

Article states: "The samples studies herein are reposited at Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Compiled isotopic data are available in the supplementary files archived at the journal. The raw and segmented μCT scans are reposited in the databased MorphoSource with Project ID 000571963, and the following DOIs: Sample 1 μCT Scan: https://doi.org/10.17602/M2/M572597; Sample 2 μCT scan: https://doi.org/10.17602/M2/M572614; Sample 1 Meshes: 10.17602/M2/M572640, 10.17602/M2/M572617, 10.17602/M2/M572604, 10.17602/M2/M572601; Sample 2 Meshes: 10.17602/M2/M572662, 10.17602/M2/M572638, 10.17602/M2/M572659, 10.17602/M2/M572656."

Original Publication Citation

Howard, C. M., Sheldon, N. D., Smith, S. Y., & Noffke, N. (2024). Interpreting an Archaean paleoenvironment through 3D imagery of microbialites. Geobiology, 22(3), 1-17, Article e12601. https://doi.org/10.1111/gbi.12601


Article Location