Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Tumbiana Formation (Pilbara, Western Australia)

  • Nicholas Arndt
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1621-3


The Tumbiana Formation is a 2,724 ± 5 Ma old, well-preserved series of calcareous and micaceous sandstones interlayered with volcanogenic siltstone in the Fortescue Group of the Pilbara craton of Western Australia. The sediments were deposited in a shallow marine or lacustrine environment associated with the influx of riverine freshwater from the continent. The Tumbiana Formation has been the focus of most astrobiological studies for its content of well-developed, genuine biogenic stromatolites and possible filamentous microfossils. Carbon and sulfur isotopes show large variations at a fine, centimeter to meter scale. Very depleted δ13C values down to −60 ‰ suggest carbon cycling by various anaerobic or aerobic methane pathways, particularly aerobic or anaerobic methanotrophy.

See Also


Bioorganic Chemistry Carbon Isotope Carbon Cycling Sulfur Isotope Shallow Marine 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maison des GéosciencesLGCA, Université J. FourierSt-Martin d’HèresFrance