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Abstract

The observation of anomalous (non mass-dependent) sulphur isotope compositions in Archaean and early Proterozoic rocks but not in rocks younger than approximately 2 Ga has been interpreted to reflect fundamental change in the terrestrial sulphur cycle, in atmospheric chemistry, and in atmospheric oxygen content. Similar non mass-dependent sulphur isotope compositions in present-day samples (atmospheric aerosols and ice-core horizons containing remnants of stratosphere-piercing volcanic eruptions) are interpreted to carry information about modern atmospheric chemistry and transport. The interpretation of these observations hinges on our understanding of the processes that produce non mass-dependent sulphur isotope compositions, the processes that transport and transfer the isotopic signals throughout the sulphur cycle, and the processes that act to preserve or erase these isotopic signals once they are established. The growing dataset and hypotheses related to non mass-dependent sulphur are evaluated, emphasizing that which remains to be learned about the evolution of the record, the compositions of key reservoirs, and the transfer of the signal from the atmosphere to the surface and ultimately to the deep Earth.

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