Alexandru I. Petrisor, PhD Candidate
Alan W. Decho, PhD
Laboratory of Microbial Interactions
Department of Environmental Health Sciences
Arnold School of Public Health
University of South Carolina
Our research during several years has focused on developing approaches to quantifying images obtained using confocal scanning laser microscopy; a tool used to answer specific microbial research questions. Microscopic images were analyzed and classified, similar to satellite images, but were used to interpret marine stromatolites, living remnants of the Earth's oldest macrofossils, formed over 3 billion years ago. Living stromatolites are still forming in the Bahamas. Through complex interactions of bacteria, sediments, and the environment, stromatolite microbial communities precipitate layers of rock to form a laminated macrostructure; a characteristic hallmark of fossil stromatolites. Understanding their inner structure and formation will hopefully foster the understanding of prehistoric conditions. This paper is focusing on the analysis several particular aspects of the stromatolite architecture, where our methodology has proved to be a valuable research instrument.