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Plenary - Pam Reid - All Microbialites are Not Created Equal: Lessons from the Bahamas and Shark Bay, Western Australia

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Please join us for this Plenary talk by Pam Reid at the State Library Theatre.

Abstract. As living representatives of Earth’s earliest ecosystems, modern microbialites provide a window to the past, allowing us to address critical questions regarding microbialite accretion and growth. In this presentation, we consider how environmental and microbial forces that characterize living ecosystems in the Bahamas and Shark Bay interact to form an initial microbialite architecture, which in turn establishes distinct evolutionary pathways. A new conceptual 3D model for microbialite accretion is presented, which emphasizes the importance of a dynamic balance between extrinsic and intrinsic factors in determining initial architecture. We then explore how early taphonomic and diagenetic processes modify initial architecture, culminating in various styles of preservation in the rock record. The timing of lithification of microbial products is critical in determining growth patterns and preservation potential. Results show that all microbialites are not created equal; the unique evolutionary history of an individual microbialite matters.

Bio. Pam is Professor of Marine Geosciences at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami. Specializing in sedimentological studies of modern carbonate environments, she has more than a hundred peer reviewed scientific publications. A focus of Pam’s research for the past three decades has been modern microbial buildups in the Bahamas and Shark Bay, Western Australia. Working closely with microbial ecologists, molecular biologists, and geochemists, Pam has spearheaded extensive field campaigns and laboratory studies that have resulted in fundamental new insight into processes forming living analogs of Earth’s oldest macrofossils.

The talk will be 45-50 minutes long followed by questions.

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