Feeds

Oxygen pollution began earlier than we ever thought

Climate change for the anaerobes

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Earth's atmosphere had oxygen in it 50-100m years earlier than anyone ever thought, according to new research from NASA.

The scientists were studying kilometre long core samples from Western Australia, in a bid to understand conditions on our planet before the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere, known as the Great Oxidation Event.

The core sample contains a continuous record of the conditions on earth, almost as if someone had left a giant tape recorder running, keeping a tidy record of the state of the planet throughout the ages.

By analysing the abundance of various metals and sulphur isotopes, the team was able to confirm that the corrosive gas was floating around the atmosphere at times predating the GOE, something no one was expecting.

"We seem to have captured a piece of time during which the amount of oxygen was actually changing - caught in the act, as it were," said Ariel Anbar, an associate professor at Arizona State University, Tempe, and leader of one of the research teams.

Anbar and his team were tracking amounts of trace metals whose quantity in oceans and sediments is governed by the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. The other research team, led by Alan Kaufman of the University of Maryland, analysed sulphur isotopes, also a function of the abundance of oxygen.

The notion that organisms started to produce oxygen a little earlier is not totally new. Some scientists support the idea that oxygen production began on a small scale, and that the quantities produced were quickly absorbed by volcanic gases and rocks.

"What we have now is new evidence for some oxygen in the environment 50 to 100 million years before the big rise of oxygen," Anbar said. "Our findings strengthen the notion that organisms learned to produce oxygen long before the Great Oxidation Event, and that the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere ultimately was controlled by geological processes." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.