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3D characterization of stromatolites and the emergence of complexity
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Paper Abstract

Stromatolites offer a unique fossil record across 3.5 Ga of microbial community evolution within the context of an evolving Earth. Our interest is in developing quantitative metrics to follow the evolution of stromatolite morphological complexity. Adopting the canonical definition of complexity as the emergence of previously unseen properties in a dynamic phenomenon, we have previously proposed in these proceedings that laminations are the defining emergent property of stromatolites and we have employed a set of statistical information metrics to quantify laminae complexity in two spatial dimensions. We now demonstrate computer x-ray tomography of stromatolites and discuss the advantages of this 3D volume density distribution technique for characterizing stromatolite samples. CT imaging makes it possible to create a virtual stromatolite, enabling both research and educational efforts previously hampered by the costs of obtaining, preparing, and distributing precious Archean stromatolite fossils. We discuss recent advances in instrument miniaturization making it feasible to provide nondestructive 3D density and elemental abundance information on endolithic geobiological targets during future manned and unmanned missions to Mars.

Paper Details

Date Published: 28 August 2008
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 7097, Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XI, 709711 (28 August 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.800918
Show Author Affiliations
Michael C. Storrie-Lombardi, Kinohi Institute (United States)
Stanley M. Awramik, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
John Nesson, Northern Inyo Hospital (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7097:
Instruments, Methods, and Missions for Astrobiology XI
Richard B. Hoover; Gilbert Victor Levin; Alexei Yu. Rozanov; Paul C.W. Davies, Editor(s)

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