The paper published by Kershaw, Zhang and Lan in 1999 was the first to recognise these features as microbialites, but earlier work by Reinhardt (1988) and by Wang Shenghai et al. (1994) are less mentioned. I particularly want to highlight Wang Shenghai, because his group undertook a detailed field study of the microbialites, which they interpreted as paleosols. In fact the widespread recrystallisation of the fabrics means they are not easy to interpret, and Kershaw et al. 1999 placed a “?” before microbialite in the title of that paper, and a lot of careful consideration was taken before concluding they are not paleosols. Subsequent work, especially by Ezaki et al. (2003) have since demonstrated their microbialite nature beyond reasonable doubt.

The reason to mention Wang Shenghai is that he died, due to illness, one year after publishing the important 1994 paper, while only in his early thirties; I didn’t meet him since my first visit there was 1996. Wang Shenghai et al.’s work was the first to recognise the along-strike variability of the microbialite, and its associated facies, over short distances in the Gaodingshan anticline, east of Huaying City, and was inspiration to me during field work in the last ten years. Professor Fan Jiasong (Beijing) was Wang Shenghai’s PhD supervisor and told me that Wang Shenghai was born in Shaanxi Province, and worked at SW Petroleum University in Sichuan until his unfortunate early death. Now that there is an increasing interest in the microbialites, with many more Chinese workers now playing a major part, it is rather sad that Wang Shenghai can’t take part in this, and I am equally sad not to have met him and benefited from his field knowledge. So this note is a tribute to his important early work.

Steve Kershaw

Wang Shenghai,Qiang Zitong, Wen Yingchu and Tao Yanzhong,1994,Petrology and origin of the calcareous crusts capping the Permian reefs in Huaying Mountains,Sichuan,China. J.Mineral.Petrology,vol.14,P.59-68 (in Chinese).

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