Was There a Late Archean Biospheric Explosion?


Astrobiology August 2008, 8(4): 823-839.

There is a growing body of evidence which suggests that the evolution of the planet drives the evolution of the biosphere. There have been 2 significant stages in Earth history when atmospheric oxygen levels rose rapidly, and both appear to be associated with supercontinent cycles.

The earlier biospheric event, which extends across the Archean-Proterozoic boundary (ca. 3.02.2 Ga), has received little attention and is the focus of this study. Recent work on the Pilbara Craton of Western Australia has shown that concretion formed by microbial activity during the diagenesis of these sediments are absent from early Archean sediments but abundant in late Archean and early Paleoproterozoic successions of the Hamersley Basin, appearing abruptly in sedimentary rocks younger than 2.7 Ga.

This study suggests that their internal architecture may have been defined by the diffusion of humic acids and the formation of polymer gels during diagenesis. The data imply that the biosphere expanded suddenly shortly after 3.0 Ga and may have begun to raise the oxygen levels of the oceanic water column earlier than thoughtpossibly as much as 300 my earlier.

Astrobiology 8, 823839.

http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.0230

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