Moodies Group, Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa

The Moodies Group (ca. 3.2 Ga) of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa host nearshore depositional environments with structures that resemble microbial mats. The biogenicity of these structures has yet to be confirmed, however, isotopically light kerogen and remains of cellular structures strongly suggest a biological origin.

One goal of my work is therefore to verify the biogenicity of these presumed microbial mats by additional analysis of:

-          Fossil structures by microscopy, SEM, CLSM and nano-SIMS, etc.

-          Kerogen by C-Isotope, Raman spectroscopy and biomarker, etc.

In case biogenicity can be verified, the internal complexity as well as the metabolism and ecology of these microbial mats will further be studied in order to constrain early metabolic pathways and better understand early strategies of life.

Their age, abundance, diverse morphology, good preservation and well-defined paleoenvironments make these mats an ideal object to expand our knowledge of early life and to contribute to our knowledge of biologic diversification, and the rise of oxygen on early earth.


Biogenicity of Precambrian Banded Iron Formations

Furthermore, I am interested in the biological mediated formation of Precambrian Banded Iron Formation (BIFs).

My PhD work involved the simulation of diagenesis in BIFs through temperature and pressure induced iron mineral transformation in high pressure- high temperature autoclaves. I development a suitable experimental system for the laboratory study of biogenic mineral diagenesis and a protocol to identify and quantify gaseous, dissolved and mineral products formed during diagenesis and metamorphism.

In the future I will focus on biological structures and signatures in BIFs of the Moodies and Fig Tree Group of the Barberton Greenstone Belt.