Iron Isotope Constraints on the Archean and Paleoproterozoic Ocean Redox State

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Science  18 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5712, pp. 1088-1091
DOI: 10.1126/science.1105692

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The response of the ocean redox state to the rise of atmospheric oxygen about 2.3 billion years ago (Ga) is a matter of controversy. Here we provide iron isotope evidence that the change in the ocean iron cycle occurred at the same time as the change in the atmospheric redox state. Variable and negative iron isotope values in pyrites older than about 2.3 Ga suggest that an iron-rich global ocean was strongly affected by the deposition of iron oxides. Between 2.3 and 1.8 Ga, positive iron isotope values of pyrite likely reflect an increase in the precipitation of iron sulfides relative to iron oxides in a redox stratified ocean.

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