The Australian Centre for Astrobiology at UNSW is running another Astrobiology “Grand Tour” in July 2018, led by Professor Martin Van Kranendonk, a leading expert in Precambrian geobiology. This field trip in Western Australia will visit sites that every astrobiologist or geobiologist should see at least once in their lives. It will be a high level educational and cultural/sensory experience that will enrich all participants – scientists and non-scientists alike!
The trip will traverse back through time, starting with the spectacular, living stromatolites of Shark Bay, with a rare opportunity to swim with these protected microbial structures. Following this, we will visit the remote sites of fossilised stromatolites from the c. 1.8 Ga Duck Creek Dolomite and c. 2.4 Ga Turee Creek Group, and walk through the transition across the rise of atmospheric oxygen (the GOE). We will then camp at Karijini National Park and hike through a canyon with walls made of 2.5 Ga Banded Iron Formation (BIF), and swim at the beautiful Fortescue Falls. Following this will be a visit to stromatolites of the c. 2.7 Ga Fortescue Group, then the c. 3.35-3.49 Ga fossiliferous units of the Pilbara Craton, including newly discovered geyserite in the Dresser Formation, site of the oldest evidence for life on land.
Expect intense discussions about such topics as the timing of the origin of life and oxygenic photosynthesis, whether life ever was (or still is) on Mars, the composition of the Archean atmosphere, and the setting for the origin of life. As well as the science, we will enjoy some spectacular scenery, memorable campfire dinners, and sleeping under the southern stars.
Key Dates and Locations
Dates: Sunday 1st – Monday 9th July, 2018.
Location: Western Australia, starting in Denham (or Carnarvon, TBC) and finishing in Port Hedland.
Transport: 4WD Bus.
Accommodation: Outdoor camping (tents, swags).
Places will be strictly limited because of the capacity of the 4WD bus and camping facilities to be utilised.
Further details including cost and a more detailed itinerary will be emailed to the EOI list in the coming months.