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Water’s Planet

Grimm, Kurt
[email protected]

1) Thick successions of laminated biogenic sediments in the Monterey Formation (MF) invite and require conceptual synthesis across broad spatio-temporal scales. Inspirational teaching and superb mentorship by Robert Garrison catalyzed diverse explorations and a new synthesis, summarized herein. 2) Complexity is not complicated. Nature is complex and technology is complicated; the distinction is necessary and useful. Cloud forms, turbulence, climate and Life are complex. Complex phenomena are not systems; they are dynamically self-patterning, synergistic, irreducable, robust, resilient, and possess intrinsic capacities for self-repair and surprise. 3) Life occurs along a continuum of dynamical self-organizing complexity. Life preceded and extends beyond the organismal and genomic perspectives of neodarwinian biology. 4) Life equals dynamical self-perpetuation that can self-repair (heal). Life is a self-referencing, self-constituting and self-perpetuating loop of processing, patterning, structuring and evolving. 5) Two basic categories of Life are evident: a) Consortial Life (CL; e.g. every eco-“system”, the marine biosphere) lacks membrane-enclosure, is collectively patterned via distributed-governance, and internally recycles resources/wastes. CL self-regulates among ≥2 quasi-stable steady states, manifests flexible yet reproducible development patterns, evolves perpetually through critical point reorganizations (adaptive cycles) and does not die. b) Organismal Life (OL; e.g. every bacterium) collectively self-generates a bounding membrane, is centrally (genome) governed, and must release metabolic wastes. OL self-regulates around a single central tendency (e.g. body temperature), is specialized and efficient, displays highly predictable development trajectories and dies. Bacteria (prokaryotic cells) are true organisms; eukaryote protists and metazoan phenotypes are fused organismal consortia. Extending from Lynn Margulis, our bodies are walkin’ talkin’ bacterial consortia; our essential selves are CL. 6). Bounded Consortial Life (BCL) manifests a specific hybrid of OL and CL characteristics. BCL collectively self-generates a bounding membrane (OL characteristic) and manifests distributed governance between ≥2 dynamical steady states (CL characteristics). BCL includes the colony-constructing social insects, microbial consortia and their coevolving biofilms (e.g. Beggiatoa/Thioploca&Desulfovibrio mats and biomineralizing stromatolitic consortia), the human heart and the Climate Consortium (CC), a Living organization. 7) Conclusions: Life is simple, complex and a planetary phenomenon. The atmosphere is a planetary biofilm. Application: We must expect a future of climatic and meteorological surprises.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90162©2013 Pacific Section AAPG, SPE and SEPM Joint Technical Conference, Monterey, California, April 19-25, 2013