Similarities and Differences Between Stromatolites and Thrombolites
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Stromatolites and thrombolites are both organosedimentary structures that have fascinated scientists and the general public for centuries but for as much as they are related or similar they each have unique differences. The word stromatolite means “layered rock”; it’s a microbial structure that is created by a layering of sediment that is cemented by abundant cyanobacteria colonies. A thrombolite was named from the word thrombosis which means “clots or clotting” because they are not layered like stromatolites but rather clustered. Stromatolites and thrombolites share similarities and differences in their environmental triggers that instigate precipitate, their structures, and their formations.
Stromatolites and thrombolites are formed in very specific environments with very specific triggers for their precipitates. Bodies of water that have developed high salinity (hypersaline) such as Hamelin pool in Shark Bay Australia and Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas are ideal environments for stromatolites. Hamelin pool is twice as salty as the open ocean and this does not provide a suitable living environment for snails or other organisms that would consume algae thereby leading to a flourishing population of cyanobacteria. The cyanobacteria population started blooming with little deterrence as far back as three and a half billion years ago as shown in fossil evidence. Although the stromatolites in Hamelin pool are not nearly this ancient (they age at about three thousand years