Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Multiple oscillations in Neoarchaean atmospheric chemistry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Author(s)

Gareth Izon, Aubrey Lea Zerkle, Yadviga Zhelezinskaya, James Farquhar, Robert J. Newton, Simon W. Poulton, Jennifer L. Eigenbrode, Mark Claire

School/Research organisations

Abstract

The Great Oxidation Event (GOE) represents a crucial juncture in Earth history, signifying the rise in atmospheric oxygen from parts per million to per cent levels at ~2.45-2.32 billion-years-ago (Ga). Although planetary oxygenation undoubtedly led to the inception of the contemporary Earth system, the trigger(s) and mechanism(s) controlling this chemical reorganisation remain elusive. Quantitative estimates of the atmosphere's composition in the prelude to the GOE are central to understanding this oxygenation event. Previous analyses of 2.65-2.5 Ga sediments from the Griqualand Basin (South Africa) invoke a tantalising picture of an unusual Earth environment, alluding to an atmosphere periodically dominated by a layer of organic particles ("haze") formed from methane photolysis. However, as yet this hypothesis has remained untested. Here we present four new coupled carbon and quadruple sulphur isotope records from distal, time equivalent (2.7-2.5 Ga), sedimentary successions from South Africa and Western Australia. These extended records reveal similar chemostratigraphic trends, supporting a dynamic terminal-Neoarchaean atmosphere, oscillating between a hazy state at elevated methane concentrations, and a haze-free anoxic background state. We suggest these atmospheric aberrations were related to heightened biogenic methane fluxes fuelled by enhanced nutrient delivery from climatically or weathering induced feedbacks. These data question the canonical view of a simple, unidirectional planetary oxygenation and signify that the overture to the GOE was governed by complex feedbacks within the Earth-biosphere system.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-273
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume431
Early online date4 Oct 2015
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015

    Research areas

  • Neoarchaean, Multiple sulphur isotopes, MIF, Methane, Hydrocarbon haze, Atmospheric oxygen

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

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

    Blättler, C., Claire, M., Prave, A. R., Zerkle, A. L. & Warke, M. R. 22 Mar 2018 In : Science. eaar2687

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. High-frequency fluctuations in redox conditions during the latest Permian mass extinction

    Mettam, C., Zerkle, A. L., Claire, M. W., Izon, G., Junium, C. J. & Twitchett, R. J. 1 Nov 2017 In : Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 485, p. 210-223

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Biological regulation of atmospheric chemistry en route to planetary oxygenation

    Izon, G., Zerkle, A. L., Williford, K., Farquhar, J., Poulton, S. & Claire, M. W. 28 Mar 2017 In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 114, 13, p. 2571-2579

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Onset of the aerobic nitrogen cycle during the Great Oxidation Event

    Zerkle, A. L., Poulton, S. W., Newton, R. J., Mettam, C., Claire, M. W., Bekker, A. & Junium, C. K. 23 Feb 2017 In : Nature. 542, p. 465-467 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  5. Pathways for Neoarchean pyrite formation constrained by mass-independent sulfur isotopes

    Farquhar, J., Cliff, J., Zerkle, A. L., Kamyshny, A., Poulton, S. W., Claire, M., Adams, D. & Harms, B. 29 Oct 2013 In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110, 44, p. 17638-17643

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Calibration of Na partitioning in the calcitic foraminifer Operculina ammonoides under variable Ca concentration: toward reconstructing past seawater composition

    Hauzer, H., Evans, D., Müller, W., Rosenthal, Y. & Erez, J. 1 Sep 2018 In : Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 497, p. 80-91 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Constraining the evolution of Neogene ocean carbonate chemistry using the boron isotope pH proxy

    Sosdian, S. M., Greenop, R., Hain, M. P., Foster, G. L., Pearson, P. N. & Lear, C. H. 15 Sep 2018 In : Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 498, p. 362-376 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Cryogenic silicification of microorganisms in hydrothermal fluids

    Fox-Powell, M. G., Channing, A., Applin, D., Cloutis, E., Preston, L. J. & Cousins, C. R. 15 Sep 2018 In : Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 498, p. 1-8 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Pervasive aerobic nitrogen cycling in the surface ocean across the Paleoproterozoic Era

    Kipp, M. A., Stüeken, E. E., Yun, M., Bekker, A. & Buick, R. 15 Oct 2018 In : Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 500, p. 117-126 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  5. Sulfur isotopes in rivers: insights into global weathering budgets, pyrite oxidation, and the modern sulfur cycle

    Burke, A., Present, T. M., Paris, G., Rae, E. C. M., Sandilands, B. H., Gaillardet, J., Peucker-Ehrenbrink, B., Fischer, W. W., McClelland, J. W., Spencer, R. G. M., Voss, B. M. & Adkins, J. F. 15 Aug 2018 In : Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 496, p. 168-177 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Earth and Planetary Science Letters (Journal)

    Hawkesworth, C. (Member of editorial board)
    19851993

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

ID: 217533978