I'm a PhD candidate in the Australian Centre for Astrobiology (ACA) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia. I'm submitting my PhD thesis in early 2019 and am interested in pursuing post-doctoral opportunities overseas in Astrobiology and Geobiology.
Over the past 9 years, since I started studying in Earth Science, I've had the opportunity to explore many beautiful and interesting places. I love doing field work, but also being in the outdoors in general. Camping, hiking, caving and kayaking are some of my favourite activities.
My research thus far has involved mapping a sequence of ~2.3 billion-year-old fossiliferous rocks from the Turee Creek Group in the Hamersley Ranges of Western Australia. This sequence was initially mapped at the regional scale as quartzite (Wyloo 1:250 000 map, 2nd edition), but upon closer examination, was actually found to contain stromatolitic carbonates. As a result, my Honours project was to map this new sequence in detail and investigate what was there.
My Honours research (2013-2014) involved 4 weeks of remote field work, where I mapped the distribution of various units for ~15 km along strike and pieced together the lithostratigraphy. I documented several types of shallow-water stromatolites, including stratiform, domal and columnar (± branching) forms, which I used to reconstruct transgression-regression cycles (relative sea-level change). This work is detailed in my Honours thesis (Barlow, 2014) and a paper in the journal Geobiology (Barlow et al., 2016).
During my PhD research (2015-2019), I investigated black chert units from the deeper-water portion of this sequence. Inside the black cherts, I discovered there were numerous microfossil morphologies preserved. Based on cell shape and size, I divided these forms into 18 specific categories, or morphotypes, and determined that these were distributed in distinct communities that were preserved within two different types of black chert: nodular and bedded.
Two of the microfossils I described are totally new - they have no known counterparts in either older or younger rocks. In addition, some of the other microfossils I documented are similar to - but at least 400 million-years older than - microfossils reported from the renowned ~1.88 byo Gunflint Iron Formation in Canada. These findings are reported in a second paper in Geobiology (Barlow et al., 2018).
My research on the stromatolites and microfossils from the Turee Creek Group has highlighted a substantial new reference point in the sparse fossil record surrounding the Great Oxidation Event (GOE), and shown that life at this time was more complex and diverse than previously thought.
I've been very generously supported over the years by my supervisor, Prof. Martin Van Kranendonk.