By examining rocks at the bottom of ancient oceans, an international group of researchers have revealed that arsenic concentrations in the oceans have varied greatly over time. But also that in the very early oceans, arsenic co-varied with the rise of atmospheric oxygen and coincided with the coming and going of global glaciations. The study was recently published in the Nature Group Journal, Scientific Reports.
"In the article we argue that when we first see the appearance of complex life on Earth, is when life have developed mechanisms to resist catastrophic chemical changes forced by global glaciations. And that this enabled the expansion of complex life in oceans, and paved the way for our own evolution", says Dr Ernest Chi Fru of Stockholm University, who has led the research group.
The first appearance of oxygen in the atmosphere occurred at a time when marine arsenic concentrations were dramatically low, at about after 2.45 billion years ago.
This is also a period when Earth experienced its first known global glaciation. At the end of these glaciations, considerable rise in marine arsenic concentrations concurred with rapid demise of atmospheric oxygen.
The authors infer -- from the way modern photosynthetic organisms react to changing marine arsenic concentrations -- that this event was due to widespread ocean toxicity resulting from the release of toxic elements into the oceans when the ice melted.
A similar low and high arsenic content accompanied the coming and going of global glaciations at around 0.7 billion years ago, which is when Earth first saw the appearance of complex life.
While the low marine arsenic concentrations again coincide with a rapid rise in atmospheric oxygen content to near modern day levels at this time, the subsequent increase when the ice melted is not accompanied by atmospheric oxygen decline.
The study was performed by an international team of researchers from Sweden, Greece and France, led by Dr Ernest Chi Fru of Stockholm University. It was funded by the European Research Council.
The article Arsenic Stress after the Proterozoic Glaciations was recently published in Nature Group Journal, Scientific Reports.
For further information
Dr Ernest Chi Fru
Department of Geological Sciences
Dr Ernest Chi Fru | EurekAlert!
NASA's AIM observes early noctilucent ice clouds over Antarctica
05.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
GPM sees deadly tornadic storms moving through US Southeast
01.12.2016 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering