Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences

Lake Thetis, Western Australia: and example of Saline Lake Sedimentation dominated by Benthic Microbial Processes

K Grey, LS Moore, RV Burne, BK Pierson and J Bauld

Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 41(2) 275 - 300
Published: 1990


Lake Thetis is a saline coastal lake in south-western Australia, a region of winter rainfall and summer drought. The lake demonstrates the close relationships between environmental variation and the nature of resident benthic microbial communities. Crenulate cyanobacterial mats occur in the low-lying areas adjacent to the lake. Lithified stromatolites with patches of living coccoid cyanobacterial mat characterize the littoral area, whereas a thick flocculent mat composed of phototrophic prokaryotes (principally purple sulfur bacteria) and diatoms has accumulated in the central lake basin. Lake Thetis is distinguished from other coastal saline lakes by the presence of the unusual flocculent mat and by the juxtaposition of this microbial community to the marginal lithified stromatolites. Further, some of the latter exhibit internal digitate columnar branching which, though common in Precambrian examples, is rare in modern environments.

Keywords: stromatolites, benthic microbial communities, geochemistry, hydrology, microbial carbonates

© CSIRO 1990

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