Sulfur Isotopes in Swaziland System Barites and the Evolution of the Earth's Atmosphere

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Science  12 Mar 1971:
Vol. 171, Issue 3975, pp. 1015-1016
DOI: 10.1126/science.171.3975.1015


Sedimentary barites from the Swaziland System of South Africa (more than 3000 million years old) have sulfur-34 ratios that are enriched by only 2.5 per mil with respect to contemporary sulfides. To explain this small fractionation, it is proposed that oxygen pressure in the earth's atmosphere was very low and that local oxidation occurred in a photosynthetic layer of the ocean.

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