Paleobiology of a Precambrian Shale

Science  23 Apr 1965:
Vol. 148, Issue 3669, pp. 461-472
DOI: 10.1126/science.148.3669.461


Investigations have been made of crude oil, pristane, phytane, steranetype and optically active alkanes, porphyrins, microfossils, and the stable isotopes of carbon and of sulfur found in the Nonesuch shale of Precambrian age from Northern Michigan. These sediments are approximately 1 billion years old. Geologic evidence indicates that they were deposited in a nearshore deltaic environment. Porphyrins are found in the siltstones but not in the crude oils of the Nonesuch formation—evidence that these chemical fossils are adsorbed or absorbed and immobile. This immobility makes it highly unlikely that these porphyrins could have moved from younger formations into the Nonesuch sediments, and the widely disseminated particulate organic matters and fossils in this Precambrian shale are certainly indigenous.