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The upside-down biosphere: “Evidence for the partially oxygenated oceans during the Archean Eon”

Shawn Domagal-Goldman
Shawn Domagal-Goldman
Research Space Scientist, Planetary Environments Laboratory, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA
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May 01, 2014

This is a commentary on the preceding chapter by Ohmoto et al., in which it is suggested that oxygen concentrations have been high throughout Earth history. This is a contentious suggestion at odds with the prevailing view in the field, which contends that atmospheric oxygen concentrations rose from trace levels to a few percent of modern-day levels around 2.5 b.y. ago. This comment notes that many of the data sets cited by Ohmoto et al. as evidence for a relatively oxidized environment come from deep-ocean settings. This presents a possibility to reconcile some of these data and suggestions with the overwhelming evidence for an atmosphere free of oxygen at that time. Specifically, it is possible that deep-ocean waters were relatively oxidized with respect to certain redox pairs. These deep-ocean waters would have been more oxidized than surface waters, thus representing an “upside-down biosphere,” as originally proposed 25 years ago by Jim Walker.

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GSA Special Papers

Earth's Early Atmosphere and Surface Environment

George H. Shaw
George H. Shaw
Geology Department, Union College, Schenectady, New York 12308, USA
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Geological Society of America
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May 01, 2014



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