The Devonian to Carboniferous sinters of the Drummond Basin, Australia, are among the oldest well established examples of fossil subaerial hot springs. Numerous subaerial and subaqueous spring deposits are known from the geological record as a result of the occurrence of economic mineral deposits in many of them. Some are reported to contain fossils, but very few have been studied by paleobiologists; they represent an untapped source of paleobiological information on the history of hydrothermal ecosystems. Such systems are of special interest, given the molecular biological evidence that thermophilic bacteria lie near the root of the tree of extant life. The Drummond Basin sinters are very closely comparable with modern examples in Yellowstone National Park and elsewhere. Thirteen microfacies are recognisable in the field, ranging from high temperature apparently abiotic geyserite through various forms of stromatolitic sinter probably of cyanobacterial origin to ambient temperature marsh deposits. Microfossils in the stromatolites are interpreted as cyanobacterial sheaths. Herbaceous lycopsids occur in the lower temperature deposits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics