thrombolites lake clifton
Exposed thrombolite reef in Lake Clifton, Yalgorup National Park.
Photo © Val English

In October 2012, the Species and Communities Branch hosted an international symposium entitled 'Research and conservation: Western Australia’s microbialites'. The aims included discussing the status, knowledge, research and conservation of structures including stromatolites and thrombolites (collectively called 'microbialites').

For billions of years microbialites such as stromatolites were important in helping produce the oxygen-rich atmosphere that now supports life on earth. In fact WA's Pilbara region contains the world's oldest known microbialite fossils at about 3.4 billion years. WA also contains some of the world’s most well known living stromatolites - at Hamelin Pool Marine Nature Reserve. Other very important living microbialites in WA include the stromatolites in Lake Thetis in Nambung National Park, the extensive thrombolite reefs of Lake Clifton in Yalgorup National Park and the smaller reefs in Lake Richmond in the Rockingham Lakes Regional Park, the unusual microbial ‘tufa’ that flow across rocks in Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park near Augusta, and the amazing wispy microbial mantles in the waters of Nullarbor caves.

Speakers at the symposium who are leaders in their fields talked about the variety and world-class importance of WA’s microbialites; determining how, where and why the structures grow; the unusual types of microbes that form the structures; their quite specific water chemistry, and conservation issues with certain sites.

Symposium documents:


Discussion summaries:

Further resources: