Two-billion-year-old evaporites capture Earth's great oxidation

C. L. Blättler, M. W. Claire, A. R. Prave, K. Kirsimäe, J. A. Higgins, P. V. Medvedev, A. E. Romashkin, D. V. Rychanchik, A. L. Zerkle, K. Paiste, T. Kreitsmann, I. L. Millar, J. A. Hayles, H. Bao, A. V. Turchyn, M. R. Warke, A. Lepland

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Abstract

Major changes in atmospheric and ocean chemistry occurred in the Paleoproterozoic era (2.5 to 1.6 billion years ago). Increasing oxidation dramatically changed Earth's surface, but few quantitative constraints exist on this important transition. This study describes the sedimentology, mineralogy, and geochemistry of a 2-billion-year-old, ∼800-meterthick evaporite succession from the Onega Basin in Russian Karelia. The deposit consists of a basal unit dominated by halite (∼100 meters) followed by units dominated by anhydrite-magnesite (∼500 meters) and dolomite-magnesite (∼200 meters). The evaporite minerals robustly constrain marine sulfate concentrations to at least 10 millimoles per kilogram of water, representing an oxidant reservoir equivalent to more than 20% of the modern ocean-atmosphere oxidizing capacity. These results show that substantial amounts of surface oxidant accumulated during this critical transition in Earth's oxygenation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-323
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume360
Issue number6386
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 20 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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    Blättler, C. L., Claire, M. W., Prave, A. R., Kirsimäe, K., Higgins, J. A., Medvedev, P. V., Romashkin, A. E., Rychanchik, D. V., Zerkle, A. L., Paiste, K., Kreitsmann, T., Millar, I. L., Hayles, J. A., Bao, H., Turchyn, A. V., Warke, M. R., & Lepland, A. (2018). Two-billion-year-old evaporites capture Earth's great oxidation. Science, 360(6386), 320-323. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar2687