Feeds

Oxygen pollution began earlier than we ever thought

Climate change for the anaerobes

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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." ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.