Significance of the Pilbara

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Significance of the Pilbara

This is a transcript of a QuickTime movie (2.8 MB) recorded in the Pilbara in 2005. Abby Allwood, from the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, talks about the significance of the Pilbara region.


The Pilbara contains the oldest well preserved sedimentary rocks on the face of the Earth today. Sedimentary rocks are important compared to the other types - igneous and metamorphic rocks - because they formed at the surface of the Earth. So they contain information about surface environments from the Early Earth and about potentially any organisms – any life that flourished on the surface of the Early Earth – you just don’t get that in igneous or metamorphic rocks. There are some potentially sedimentary rocks that are greater in age than the Pilbara – these are about 3.5 billion years of age. Greenland has some that are 3.8 billion years of age. But these have been extremely altered and metamorphosed so we can’t see the original information that was preserved in them. In fact it is even contentious as to whether or not they were sedimentary originally. So really the Pilbara is the first geological window we have into the environments and potentially the life on Early Earth. And that’s pretty precious.




Early Life



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