Skip to Main Content

Iron oxides, divalent cations, silica, and the early Earth phosphorus crisis

C. Jones, S. Nomosatryo, S. A. Crowe, C. J. Bjerrum and D. E. Canfield
Iron oxides, divalent cations, silica, and the early Earth phosphorus crisis
Geology (Boulder) (February 2015) 43 (2): 135-138


As a nutrient required for growth, phosphorus regulates the activity of life in the oceans. Iron oxides sorb phosphorus from seawater, and through the Archean and early Proterozoic Eons, massive quantities of iron oxides precipitated from the oceans, producing a record of seawater chemistry that is preserved as banded iron formations (BIFs) today. Here we show that Ca (super 2+) , Mg (super 2+) , and silica in seawater control phosphorus sorption onto iron oxides, influencing the record of seawater phosphorus preserved in BIFs. Using a model for seawater cation chemistry through time, combined with the phosphorus and silica content of BIFs, we estimate that seawater in the Archean and early Proterozoic Eons likely contained 0.04-0.13 mu M phosphorus, on average. These phosphorus limiting conditions could have favored primary production through photoferrotrophy at the expense of oxygenic photosynthesis until upwelling waters shifted from phosphorus to iron limiting.

ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 43
Serial Issue: 2
Title: Iron oxides, divalent cations, silica, and the early Earth phosphorus crisis
Affiliation: University of Southern Denmark, Institute of Biology, Odense, Denmark
Pages: 135-138
Published: 201502
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 29
Accession Number: 2015-016281
Categories: General geochemistryStratigraphy
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table
Secondary Affiliation: Indonesian Institute of Sciences, IDN, IndonesiaUniversity of Copenhagen, DNK, Denmark
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 201508
Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal