Professor Kathy Campbell in the Pilbara, Western Australia, with ~3.5 billion year old pillow basalts. Photo: T. Djokic.
Professor Kathy Campbell from The University of Auckland is the co-author of a paper published in Nature Communications in May 2017 that pushes the evidence for the oldest life on land back to 3.48 billion years ago. Campbell and her team of collaborators from Australia, Argentina, the U.S. and France have just been awarded a 2017 Royal Society Te Apārangi Marsden Fund grant for the research project ‘Some Liked it Hot: Searching for Early Life in Terrestrial Hot Springs’ to drill fresh rock core in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to obtain high-resolution geochemical, mineralogical and textural data to tease out how and where earliest terrestrial life lived.
Scientists believe life began sometime around 4 billion years ago, perhaps in deep sea hydrothermal vents or alternatively on land, in a version of Charles Darwin’s “warm little pond”. The deep sea hypothesis has been popular for 30 years but some believe life could have taken hold in terrestrial hot springs on an emergent land surface.
One of these “go-to” places where scientists make pilgrimages to marvel at early life is in a ...