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Earth's early atmosphere and surface environments: A review

Martin J. Van Kranendonk
Martin J. Van Kranendonk
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Australian Centre for Astrobiology, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia
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May 01, 2014

This review summarizes and assesses a series of papers presented at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in 2011 on the changing composition of Earth's early atmosphere. This is a developing field, with differing views, due largely to the facts of an incomplete rock record and negligible preservation of the gaseous components of the atmosphere. Nevertheless, there are constraints, available through geological proxies in the form of chemical sedimentary rocks that reflect the composition of the hydrosphere, and because the two are directly linked, the atmosphere. A review of the geological constraints on atmospheric conditions is presented for early Earth, from its formation at 4.56 Ga up to 1.8 Ga, followed by a developing model that links changing atmosphere/hydrosphere conditions and biosphere evolution to changes in planetary tectonics, including the evolving supercontinent cycle.

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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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