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SPP 1833 junior scientists inspecting the Trendall locality exposing some of the oldest stromatolite colonies and associated carbonates on Earth.

SPP-1833 scientists visit Australian “hot spots” of Archean research

During the Pilbara Field Workshop (August 28th – September 5th, 2017) 17 Junior Scientists and 12 Senior Researchers of the SPP 1833 were introduced in the geology of the Pilbara craton, one of the best preserved Archean crustal records on Earth. Martin van Kranendonk, Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology (ACA) and author of various key articles about the Archean geology of the Pilbara craton, led the workshop. The aim of the workshop was to foster collaboration between the different German research groups and the Australian colleagues and to launch joint research projects.
In the East Pilbara Terrane, the rocks of the Pilbara Supergroup are preserved in steeply-dipping, synclinal greenstone belts that wrap around broad (~60km) ovoid granitic domes. Although the area has undergone periods of meatamorphism, uplift, weathering and erosion, many Archean features are extremely well preserved.

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Martin van Kranendonk (UNSW, Sydney), one of the most established experts in the Pilbara region introduced the group into the regional geology.

The SPP participants had the chance to visit some of the most famous “hot spots” of Archean research, such as classical dome and keel type structural features, the Schopf microfossil locality in the Apex chert near Marble Bar or the Trendall locality with some of the oldest stromatolites and carbonates on Earth.  Furthermore, the Dresser formation at North Pole Dome, a 3.5Ga package of interbedded chert and barite units, pillow basalts and hydothermal deposits was investigated. Another highlight was a visit of the Fortescue and Hamersley groups in the Karijini National Park with impressive outcrops of massive banded iron formations. Mining of the iron ore was outlined to the SPP group during a visit of the Mount Tom Price iron mine pit.
During the workshop, SPP 1833-researchers had the opportunities to take samples for both joint and  individual studies in different laboratories involved in the SPP 1833. Furthermore, all participants benefitted from the scientific exchange at all academic levels, particularly including young researchers. New co-operations for the second phase of the SPP 1833 were established, which will further enhance the interdisciplinarity of the research program.

Photos: D. Hülle/S.Viehmann

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Researchers of the SPP 1833 studied the Archean geology of the Pilbara craton