Origins of organisms, organic-rich rocks and oils: mapping the evolution of algal and cyanobacterial communities in Australian onshore sedimentary basins

The aims of the project are to examine the fossil and chemical fossil record of both phytoplankton and microbial mats in the middle Cambrian to Early Ordovician sediments of the Canning, Georgina and Officer basins to make inter-basinal and global correlations. The focus is on the microfossils Gloeocapsomorpha prisca and Eomerismopedia maureeniae to understand the controls on their relative abundances within palynofloras recovered from various rock facies. The first biomarker analyses of E. maureeniae will occur in this study. To establish the natural evolutionary affinities of these microfossils, and thus predict likely growth habitats, their molecular composition will be compared with biomarkers derived from the laboratory pyrolysis of the living, morphologically comparative, cyanobacterial species of Gloeocapsa and Merismopedia.Refinement and definition of their respective geobiochemical fingerprints will enable robust oil-source rock correlations, particularly in frontier areas where the origin of oil and gas shows are unknown, which will assist with assessing the prospectivity of these regions.