A Review on Microbialites: a Korean Perspective

미생물암에 대하여: 한국적 관점

  • Lee, Jeong-Hyun (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Korea University)
  • 이정현 (고려대학교 지구환경과학과)
  • Received : 2015.07.25
  • Accepted : 2015.10.13
  • Published : 2015.12.30


Microbialites are defined as rocks formed by microbial organisms. After their first appearance around 3.5 billion years ago, microbialites occur in various depositional environments throughout geological periods. Microbial organisms form microbialites by trapping and binding detrital sediments and/or precipitating carbonate cements, resulting in formation of various microstructures and mesostructures. Four major types of microbialites are distinguished based on their mesostructures: stromatolite, thrombolite, dendrolite, and leiolite. In the geological records, occurrences of microbialites are influenced by calcium carbonate saturation of seawater and interaction of microbialites with metazoans. Stromatolites mainly flourished during the Precambrian, and diminished as level of atmospheric carbon dioxide declined. On the other hand, thrombolites, mainly formed by calcified microbes, began to flourish from the Neoproterozoic. As metazoans diversified in the Phanerozoic, proportion of the microbialites within sedimentary record declined. Since then, microbialites only occasionally flourished during the Phanerozoic, such as shortly after mass-extinction events. In the Korean Peninsula, microbialites occur in the Neoproterozoic Sangwon System, the Early Paleozoic Joseon Supergroup, and the Cretaceous Gyeongsang Supergroup, which form different shapes according to their age and depositional environments. By performing detailed studies on these Korean microbialites, it is possible to understand how microbes affected geological records and sedimentary environments, as well as their interaction with other organisms.

미생물에 의해 만들어진 퇴적암인 미생물암은 약 35억 년 전 지구 상에 최초로 등장한 이후 오늘날에도 다양한 환경에서 형성되고 있다. 미생물암은 미생물이 쇄설성 퇴적물을 고정하거나 탄산염을 침전시켜 생성되며, 그 결과 미생물암의 미세구조와 중간구조가 형성된다. 미생물암은 그 중간구조를 바탕으로 크게 스트로마톨라이트, 쓰롬볼라이트, 덴드롤라이트, 레이올라이트 등 네 가지로 분류한다. 지질 기록에서 미생물암의 분포 양상은 주로 해수 중 탄산칼슘 농도와 후생동물의 영향을 받았다. 선캄브리아 시대에 오랫동안 널리 분포하였던 스트로마톨라이트는 대기 중 이산화탄소 농도가 감소하면서 점차 줄어들었고, 이를 대신하여 신원생대부터 석회화된 미생물로 이루어진 쓰롬볼라이트가 번성하기 시작하였다. 이후 현생누대에 접어들며 다양한 후생동물이 등장함에 따라 미생물암이 퇴적기록에서 차지하는 비중은 매우 감소하였으며, 대멸종 직후 등 특정 시기에만 짧게 번성하였다. 한반도에서는 지금까지 신원생대 상원계, 전기 고생대 조선누층군, 백악기 경상누층군 등에서 미생물암이 보고된 바 있으며, 이들은 시대와 퇴적 환경에 따라 서로 다른 형태로 발달한다. 앞으로 한반도의 미생물암에 대한 추가 연구를 통해 미생물이 지질기록 및 퇴적환경에 미친 영향뿐만 아니라 미생물과 다른 생물들 사이의 상호작용을 이해할 수 있을 것이다.


Supported by : 고려대학교


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