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The Archean Sulfur Cycle and the Early History of Atmospheric Oxygen

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Science  28 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5466, pp. 658-661
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5466.658

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Abstract

The isotope record of sedimentary sulfides can help resolve the history of oxygen accumulation into the atmosphere. We measured sulfur isotopic fractionation during microbial sulfate reduction up to 88°C and show how sulfate reduction rate influences the preservation of biological fractionations in sediments. The sedimentary sulfur isotope record suggests low concentrations of seawater sulfate and atmospheric oxygen in the early Archean (3.4 to 2.8 billion years ago). The accumulation of oxygen and sulfate began later, in the early Proterozoic (2.5 to 0.54 billion years ago).

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: dec{at}biology.ou.dk

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