This week my mom, sister and I hiked rim to rim at the Grand Canyon National Park, which was an amazing experience that I HIGHLY recommend. Unfortunately, there is a unconformity (missing time due to the erosion of specific rock layers) that includes the Ordovician time period, the main focus of our summer research. However, there were plenty of other geological features worth noting!
So the reason our research can exist is due to a nifty creature called the stromatolite, an alga-like organism that first appeared about 3.5 billion years ago and has withstood the test of time in the shallow seas around the coast of Australia. With the help of my “Hiking the Grand Canyon’s Geology” book (shout out to my sister for that awesome birthday gift) and my patient hiking partners, we found a stratigraphic layer of these important algal mats that date about 1.2 billion years old when we were about 10.3 miles into our hike.
Stromatolites were so vital to early life because they’re photosynthetic- they take carbon dioxide out of the air and release oxygen, helping to make Earth a habitable environment for LIFE!
Let’s take a moment of silence for the stromatolites…. 🙂