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Sulfate was a trace constituent of Archean seawater

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Author(s)

Sean A. Crowe, Guillaume Paris, Sergei Katsev, CarriAyne Jones, Sang-Tae Kim, Aubrey L. Zerkle, Sulung Nomosatryo, David A. Fowle, Jess F. Adkins, Alex L. Sessions, James Farquhar, Donald E. Canfield

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Abstract

In the low-oxygen Archean world (>2400 million years ago), seawater sulfate concentrations were much lower than today, yet open questions frustrate the translation of modern measurements of sulfur isotope fractionations into estimates of Archean seawater sulfate concentrations. In the water column of Lake Matano, Indonesia, a low-sulfate analog for the Archean ocean, we find large (>20 per mil) sulfur isotope fractionations between sulfate and sulfide, but the underlying sediment sulfides preserve a muted range of δ34S values. Using models informed by sulfur cycling in Lake Matano, we infer Archean seawater sulfate concentrations of less than 2.5 micromolar. At these low concentrations, marine sulfate residence times were likely 103 to 104 years, and sulfate scarcity would have shaped early global biogeochemical cycles, possibly restricting biological productivity in Archean oceans.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-739
Number of pages5
JournalScience
Volume346
Issue number6210
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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