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Dating the rise of atmospheric oxygen

Dating the rise of atmospheric oxygen Several lines of geological and geochemical evidence indicate that the level of atmospheric oxygen was extremely low before 2.45 billion years (Gyr) ago, and that it had reached considerable levels by 2.22 Gyr ago. Here we present evidence that the rise of atmospheric oxygen had occurred by 2.32 Gyr ago. We found that syngenetic pyrite is present in organic-rich shales of the 2.32-Gyr-old Rooihoogte and Timeball Hill formations, South Africa. The range of the isotopic composition of sulphur in this pyrite is large and shows no evidence of mass-independent fractionation, indicating that atmospheric oxygen was present at significant levels (that is, greater than 10-5 times that of the present atmospheric level) during the deposition of these units. The presence of rounded pebbles of sideritic iron formation at the base of the Rooihoogte Formation and an extensive and thick ironstone layer consisting of haematitic pisolites and oölites in the upper Timeball Hill Formation indicate that atmospheric oxygen rose significantly, perhaps for the first time, during the deposition of the Rooihoogte and Timeball Hill formations. These units were deposited between what are probably the second and third of the three Palaeoproterozoic glacial events. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Springer Journals

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References (50)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2004 by Macmillan Magazines Ltd.
Subject
Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, multidisciplinary
ISSN
0028-0836
eISSN
1476-4687
DOI
10.1038/nature02260
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Several lines of geological and geochemical evidence indicate that the level of atmospheric oxygen was extremely low before 2.45 billion years (Gyr) ago, and that it had reached considerable levels by 2.22 Gyr ago. Here we present evidence that the rise of atmospheric oxygen had occurred by 2.32 Gyr ago. We found that syngenetic pyrite is present in organic-rich shales of the 2.32-Gyr-old Rooihoogte and Timeball Hill formations, South Africa. The range of the isotopic composition of sulphur in this pyrite is large and shows no evidence of mass-independent fractionation, indicating that atmospheric oxygen was present at significant levels (that is, greater than 10-5 times that of the present atmospheric level) during the deposition of these units. The presence of rounded pebbles of sideritic iron formation at the base of the Rooihoogte Formation and an extensive and thick ironstone layer consisting of haematitic pisolites and oölites in the upper Timeball Hill Formation indicate that atmospheric oxygen rose significantly, perhaps for the first time, during the deposition of the Rooihoogte and Timeball Hill formations. These units were deposited between what are probably the second and third of the three Palaeoproterozoic glacial events.

Journal

NatureSpringer Journals

Published: Jan 8, 2004

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