Archean Molar-tooth Structures

(Student James Bishop just finished his masters thesis on this project. Funding was from NASA Astrobiology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology.)

Molar-tooth structures are calcite microspar-filled cracks in fine grained sediment. The origin of these structures is controversial, with proposed causes ranging from earthquake shaking to wave-induced stress on the sediment-water interface to microbial decay of organics. The Neoarchean Monteville Formation, South Africa, contains molar tooth structures in some shales with interbedded grainstones, but not others. By constraining the spatial relationships among depositional environments, grainstone interbeds, and molar tooth structures, we hope to constrain models of their development in Archean shales.

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Dawn Y. Sumner
Department of Geology
University of California
Davis, CA 95616