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Space Science & Astrobiology Division- Special Seminar Series

Title: Antarctic microbial mats as windows into ancient ecosystems — Tyler Mackey¬†Agouron Postdoctoral , Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences —

Abstract: Perennially ice-covered lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, contain abundant cyanobacterially-dominated microbial mats forming delicate morphologies in low energy depositional environments. Comparison of microbial mats from ice-covered lakes Vanda and Joyce provide a natural laboratory to investigate the role of depositional environments on microbial mat morphology and provide insight to the meaning of preserved microbial deposits from the sedimentary record. Observations indicate that pinnacle and ridge morphology varies in response to directional irradiance. Varying rates of siliciclastic mud deposition, however, affect the morphology of partially calcified microbial mats, including the growth of delicate microbial structures like biofilm webs. Thus, delicate mat morphologies have narrow environmental ranges for growth, and temporal or spatial variations in siliciclastic mud or micrite sedimentation rates bias the record of microbial activity likely to be preserved in stromatolites.


Point of contact: darlene.lim@nasa.gov



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