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!
Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores
24.01.2017 | University of Utah
New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from DESY's...
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.01.2017 | Life Sciences
24.01.2017 | Health and Medicine