Warrawoona Group

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Warrawoona Group
Stratigraphic range: Paleoarchean
~3465 Ma
Warrawoona geology 2.JPG
Warrawoona and Western Australia showing geological classification
TypeGeological group
Unit ofPilbara Supergroup
OtherArchean felsic volcanic rocks
Coordinates21°42′S 118°0′E / 21.700°S 118.000°E / -21.700; 118.000 (Warrawoona)Coordinates: 21°42′S 118°0′E / 21.700°S 118.000°E / -21.700; 118.000 (Warrawoona)
RegionWestern Australia
Country Australia
ExtentPilbara craton
Type section
Named forWarrawoona
Named byArthur Hugh Hickman
Year defined1983
Warrawoona Group is located in Australia
Warrawoona Group
Warrawoona Group (Australia)
Warrawoona Group is located in Western Australia
Warrawoona Group
Warrawoona Group (Western Australia)

The Warrawoona Group is a geological unit in Western Australia containing putative fossils of cyanobacteria cells. Dated 3.465 Ga, these microstructures, found in Archean chert, are considered to be the oldest known geological record of life on Earth.[1][2][3]


The fossils in this group were discovered by Arthur Hugh Hickman in 1983 in Warrawoona, 21°42′S 118°0′E / 21.700°S 118.000°E / -21.700; 118.000 (Warrawoona), a region on the Pilbara craton in the northern part of Pilbara province.

Whether or not the fossils are authentic was disputed in the past, as abiotic processes could not be ruled out.[4][5] Currently the fossils are thought to be of biological origin, however there is no conclusive evidence of fossilized organisms in the formation, and whether the lines in the rock are fossilized stromatolites.[6]

The rocks also include felsic volcanic rocks.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Skrzypczak, A.; Derenne, S.; Robert, F.; Binet, L.; Gourier, D.; Rouzard, J.-N.; Clinard, C. (March 2004). Characterization Of The Organic Matter In An Archean Chert (Warrawoona, Australia) (PDF). 35th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. League City, TX. Bibcode:2004LPI....35.1241S.
  2. ^ Derenne, S.; Robert, F.; Skrzypczak-Bonduelle, A.; Gourier, D.; Binet, L.; Rouzaud, J.-N. (July 2008). "Molecular evidence for life in the 3.5 billion year old Warrawoona chert". Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 272 (1–2): 476–480. Bibcode:2008E&PSL.272..476D. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2008.05.014.
  3. ^ Schopf, J. W.; Packer, B. M. (September 1986). "Newly discovered early Archean (3.4–3.5 Ga Old) microorganisms from the Warrawoona Group of Western Australia". Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere. 16 (3–4): 339–340. Bibcode:1986OrLi...16..339S. doi:10.1007/BF02422059.
  4. ^ Brasier, M. D.; Green, O. R.; Jephcoat, A. P.; Kleppe, A. K.; Van Kranendonk, M. J.; Lindsay, J. F.; Steele, A.; Grassineau, N. V. (March 2002). "Questioning the evidence for Earth's oldest fossils". Nature. 416 (6876): 76–81. Bibcode:2002Natur.416...76B. doi:10.1038/416076a. PMID 11882895.
  5. ^ Hofmann, H. J. (June 2004). "Archean Microfossils and Abiomorphs". Astrobiology. 4 (2): 135–136. Bibcode:2004AsBio...4..135H. doi:10.1089/153110704323175115. PMID 15253835.
  6. ^ Wacey, D.; Kilburn, M. R.; Saunders, M.; Cliff, J.; Brasier, M. D. (August 2011). "Microfossils of sulphur-metabolizing cells in 3.4-billion-year-old rocks of Western Australia". Nature Geoscience. 4 (10): 698–702. Bibcode:2011NatGe...4..698W. doi:10.1038/ngeo1238.
  7. ^ DiMarco, Michael J.; Lowe, Donald R. (August 1989). "Stratigraphy and sedimentology of an early Archean felsic volcanic sequence, eastern Pilbara Block, Western Australia, with special reference to the Duffer Formation and implications for crustal evolution". Precambrian Research. 44 (2): 147–169. Bibcode:1989PreR...44..147D. doi:10.1016/0301-9268(89)90080-6.

Further reading[edit]

  • Buick, R.; Groves, D. I.; Dunlop, J. S. R.; Lowe, D. R. (February 1995). "Abiological origin of described stromatolites older than 3.2 Ga: Comment and Reply". Geology. 23 (2): 191–192. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1995)023<0191:AOODSO>2.3.CO;2.
  • Condie, K. C. (1981). Archean Greenstone Belts. 3. New York City: Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company. ISBN 0-444-41854-7.

External links[edit]