Modern Cyanobacterial Analogs of Paleozoic Stromatoporoids

Science  30 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4985, pp. 1244-1248
DOI: 10.1126/science.250.4985.1244


Recent and subfossil calcareous structures resembling cystose and subclathrate Paleozoic stromatoporoids have been discovered in a sea-linked, stratified, alkaline crater lake on Satonda Island, Indonesia. The structures are produced by mats of coccoid cyanobacteria growing along the lakeshore from the water surface down to the O2-H2S interface located at a depth of 22.8 meters. Calcification of the mats is controlled by seasonal changes in calcium carbonate supersaturation in the epilimnion. The internally complex structures are a product of two different calcification processes: (i) periodic in vivo calcification of the surficial cyanobacterial layers by low-Mg calcite, and (ii) early postmortem calcification of the cyanobacterial aggregates below the mat surface by microbially precipitated aragonite. The finding supports the idea that Paleozoic stromatoporoids represent fossilized cyanobacteria (stromatolites). It also implies that the stromatoporoid-generating epicontinental seas during the early Paleozoic may have been more alkaline and had a higher carbonate mineral supersaturation than modern seawater.