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Stromatolites: Oldest Fossils Enhance Scenery

Stromatolites: Oldest Fossils Enhance Scenery
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Kootenai Falls Stromatolites

Kootenai Falls Stromatolites

The swirling rock depicted above consists of stromatolites along the Kootenai River, near Kootenai Falls, Montana. At the falls, crystal blue water tumbles over a colorful assortment of purple, beige, and tan rocks, attracting many visitors. Along with ripple marks and other sedimentary structures, stromatolites contribute patterns to the colorful array of the riverbanks.

Stomatolites lay strewn across that landscape long before the banks confined a river, back when a shallow ocean covered them. Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) formed the structures by trapping and binding activities during the Proterozoic Eon (2.5 billion to 600 million years ago) of the Precambrian Era (in Montana, 3.2 billion to 600 million years ago) (Alt and Hyndman 1986:vii; Boggs 1995:145-146; Mathews 2003:592).

At least within the nearby Glacier – Waterton parks in Montana and Alberta, stromatolites lie within limestone beds (Mathews 2003:592). Once the dominant lifeform until other life evolved to eat them, blue-green algae now lives in smaller quantities, usually in shallow subtidal, intertidal, and supratidal ocean zones, but also in lakes (Boggs 1995:146; Mathews 2003:592).

Kootenai Falls County Park is situated the north side of United States Highway 2, between Bonners Ferry, Idaho and Libby, Montana, three miles east of Troy, Montana: http://www.waterfallsmontana.com/waterfalls.aspx?id=6.

Kootenai River Links:

Creative Commons License
Kootenai Falls Stromatolites by Shari Maria Silverman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

References:

Alt, David and Donald W. Hyndman
1986 Roadside Geology of Montana. Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana.

Boggs, Sam
1995 Principles of Sedimentology and Stratigraphy. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Mathews, Daniel
2003 Rocky Mountains Natural History: Grand Teton to Jasper. Raven Editions, Portland, Oregon.


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