Schopf Locality

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Researchers investigating the Schopf Locality
Researchers investigating the Schopf Locality

A place to find microfossils?

The Schopf Locality is located a brisk two-hour walk over rocky ground from the outskirts of Marble Bar in the Pilbara area. High on a hillside near Chinaman Creek is a chert barite dyke where material was collected. Dr Bill Schopf claimed that the material contained microfossils dating back into the early Archaean and a paper was published in the refereed journal Nature in 1993. Since then the matter has been the subject of an ongoing debate - in particular between Dr Schopf of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Dr Martin Brasier of Oxford University in the UK. Follow the web references below to read about both sides of the debate.

Web references:

Schopf and Brasier debate

Is this life?

A brief overview

Questioning the evidence



  • Marble Bar Chert, a very fine grained sedimentary rock laid down near Marble Bar 3.4 billion years ago. Prof Roger Summons of MIT takes a rest on the chert during a hot day in the Pilbara in 2005.
  • Pillow basalts showing ocelli.
  • Simplified geological map of the Apex chert “microfossil” locality (Modified from Brasier et al., 2002: Nature, v. 416, p. 76-81).




Early Life



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