Dating the rise of atmospheric oxygen bekker

Posted by / 24-Oct-2015 16:15

Dating the rise of atmospheric oxygen bekker

Measuring sulfur isotopes--different versions of the atom with the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons--in rock samples provides a sensitive way to monitor ancient oxygen levels.

Ono looked at sulfur isotopes from South African drill-core samples covering the time interval from 3.2 to 2.4 billion years ago.Today's climate change pales in comparison with what happened as Earth gave birth to its oxygen-containing atmosphere billions of years ago.By analyzing clues contained in rocks, scientists at the Carnegie Institution have found that the initial rise of oxygen (O2) was transitory and that its final emergence may have been linked to volcanoes and catastrophic glaciations.That material rained back to the surface and oceans, affecting ocean chemistry and the ocean and atmospheric cycles.The oxygen atmosphere wasn't here to stay, however.

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