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Rare earth element (REE) analyses of Precambrian banded iron formations (BIFs) show that distinct negative Ce anomalies, although rather weak or moderate (Ce/Ce* = 0.5–0.9), are commonly present in Algoma-type BIFs of the Early and Middle Archean, and even in the 3.8–3.7 Ga Isua iron formation (IF). This indicates that the seawater columns from which the BIFs precipitated were not entirely anoxic and that Ce oxidation mechanisms already existed in the 3.8–3.7 Ga oceans. The presence of pronounced negative Ce anomalies (Ce/Ce* = 0.1–0.5) in Late Archean (2.9–2.7 Ga) Algoma-type BIFs suggests that strongly oxygenated oceanic conditions like today emerged...

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