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Stromatolite branching in the Neoproterozoic of the Centralian Superbasin, Australia: an investigation into sedimentary and microbial control of stromatolite morphology


Corresponding author: Kathleen Grey. Tel.: 61 08 9470 0302; fax: 61 08 9362 5694; e-mail:


The extensive and well-preserved Neoproterozoic Acaciella australica Stromatolite assemblage of Australia is ideal for examining the relative roles of microbial and environmental influences on stromatolite branching and stromatolite macrostructure across a wide geographical area. Detailed sedimentological analyses indicate that the basal hemispheroidal section of bioherms contains abundant sediment. By contrast, the columnar sections of bioherms are composed almost exclusively of micritic laminae. These micritic laminae display little evidence for environmental, especially sedimentary, control over stromatolite morphology. The change from a hemispheroidal morphology to branching morphology is linked to variations in the relative contributions of sediment and framework growth. The shift to columns appears to be closely linked to a decrease in sediment supply that resulted in a more stable environment in which microbially mediated framework growth began to control stromatolite morphology. Branching in the A. australica assemblage stromatolites appears to be caused by shifting sedimentary and microbial control on stromatolite morphology.