Earth's Oxygen Levels Rose And Fell More Than Once Before The Great Oxidation Event

Posted: Jul 10 2018, 3:16pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Earth's Oxygen Levels Rose and Fell More Than Once Before the Great Oxidation Event
The Jeerinah Formation in Western Australia, where a UW-led team found a sudden shift in nitrogen isotopes. "Nitrogen isotopes tell a story about oxygenation of the surface ocean, and this oxygenation spans hundreds of kilometers across a marine basin and lasts for somewhere less than 50 million years," said lead author Matt Koehler. Image Credit: Roger Buick / University of Washington
  • Oxygen levels on early Earth rose, fell several times before great oxidation event

The Amount of Oxygen Rose and Fell on Many an Occasion in the Planet’s Prehistoric Past. Actually, oxygen levels on early Earth rose and fell more than once hundreds of millions of years before the planetwide success of the Great Oxidation Event about 2.4 billion years ago.

The oxygen levels on the earth rose and fell several times in the past. This much is for sure as the researchers point out. Hundreds of millions of years ago, this event occurred. That is before the Great Oxidation Event which took place 2.4 billion years ago.

It all basically happened on the ocean’s surface. Thus oxidation was by no means a simple and straightforward process. On the contrary, it involved several ups and downs before a balancing of extremes. There was success and failure and often at one and the same time.

This new research work, done by the University of Washington, may even provide some inspiration for the search for intelligent life beyond our planet.

The telescopes of the future will allow astronomers to gaze even more clearly at the far-off objects in space. Thus the atmosphere of faraway planets may be analyzed easily in the future.

That oxygen levels rose and fell in accordance with the past times is an indicator that astronomers have to be careful in labeling an external planet as not harboring life. The lack of oxygen may be a temporary period in that planet’s history.

The oceans were the site of a great deal of creation and destruction of oxygen in the past. Nothing was final way back then. Then along came the Great Oxidation Event. That was when the tipping point came and oxygen began to rule the atmospheric equation of our planet.

According to a researcher, “What we have in this paper is another detection, at high resolution, of a transient whiff of oxygen.”

This was some 50 million to 100 million years before the Great Oxidation Event. Some of the metals analyzed beneath the earth’s surface show this all to be the truth. So the amount of oxygen rose and fell on several occasions on the planet in its distant past.

The findings of this research appeared in a new paper that got published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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