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OxygenA Four Billion Year History$
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Donald Eugene Canfield

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691145020

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691145020.001.0001

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Earth’s Middle Ages: What Came after the GOE

Earth’s Middle Ages: What Came after the GOE

(p.110) Chapter 9 Earth’s Middle Ages: What Came after the GOE

Donald Eugene Canfield

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the aftermath of the great oxidation event (GOE). It suggests that there was a substantial rise in oxygen defining the GOE, which may, in turn have led to the Lomagundi isotope excursion, which was associated with high rates of organic matter burial and perhaps even higher concentrations of oxygen. This excursion was soon followed by a crash in oxygen to very low levels and a return to banded iron formation deposition. When the massive amounts of organic carbon buried during the excursion were brought into the weathering environment, they would have represented a huge oxygen sink, drawing down levels of atmospheric oxygen. There appeared to be a veritable seesaw in oxygen concentrations, apparently triggered initially by the GOE. The GOE did not produce enough oxygen to oxygenate the oceans. Dissolved iron was removed from the oceans not by reaction with oxygen but rather by reaction with sulfide. Thus, the deep oceans remained anoxic and became rich in sulfide, instead of becoming well oxygenated.

Keywords:   atmospheric oxygen, Earth, great oxidation event, sulfide, Lomagundi isotope excursion

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