Monday, August 01, 2011

Rare stromatolites discovered at Mulu’s Deer Cave

KUCHING: The Deer Cave within Mulu National Park is famous for its huge passages and various species of bats that number in hundreds and thousands.

The cave has recently added yet another unique attraction with rare ‘stromatolites’ or layered sedimentary structures being discovered close to its north east entrance.

Researcher Prof Joyce Lundberg, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University, Otttawa, Canada, expressed amazement with the freshwater stromatolites, which were probably the first of its kind in the world.

While presenting a heritage talk organised by the Sarawak Museum Department on this unique geo-biological cave formation, she also informed that these rare stromatolites were being studied.

The stromatolites in the shape of horizontal shelves and about 20 metres in length are yet to be opened to the public.

Although these stromatolites have developed much recently, unlike the ones found elsewhere predating to the Precambrian period where life forms were simple and small, they still hold clue to the biological activities in the cave.

While Prof Lundberg could not say what the stromatolites indicated about the cave, she was confident that it could, among others, be used as a barometer to reflect the rainfall that the area has seen.

She said the next stage of research would determine the time since when the stromatolites have been growing, with the initial indication pointing to the period just before World War II.

“A typical two to three-centimetre thick stromatolite, probably represents a timeline of about 50 years,” she remarked, adding that embedded in the stromatolites were indicators like the amount of rainfall the place has seen, biological activities and fluctuations in the environment.

Continue reading at: Rare stromatolites discovered at Mulu’s Deer Cave

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