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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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