Petrographic carbon in ancient sediments constrains Proterozoic Era atmospheric oxygen levels

Don E. Canfield*, Mark A. van Zuilen, Sami Nabhan, Christian J. Bjerrum, Shuichang Zhang, Huajian Wang, Xiaomei Wang

*Kontaktforfatter for dette arbejde

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Abstrakt

Oxygen concentration defines the chemical structure of Earth's ecosystems while it also fuels the metabolism of aerobic organisms. As different aerobes have different oxygen requirements, the evolution of oxygen levels through time has likely impacted both environmental chemistry and the history of life. Understanding the relationship between atmospheric oxygen levels, the chemical environment, and life, however, is hampered by uncertainties in the history of oxygen levels. We report over 5,700 Raman analyses of organic matter from nine geological formations spanning in time from 742 to 1,729 Ma. We find that organic matter was effectively oxidized during weathering and little was recycled into marine sediments. Indeed, during this time interval, organic matter was as efficiently oxidized during weathering as it is now. From these observations, we constrain minimum atmospheric oxygen levels to between 2 to 24% of present levels from the late Paleoproterozoic Era into the Neoproterozoic Era. Indeed, our results reveal that eukaryote evolution, including early animal evolution, was not likely hindered by oxygen through this time interval. Our results also show that due to efficient organic recycling during weathering, carbon cycle dynamics can be assessed directly from the sediment carbon record.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummere2101544118
TidsskriftProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol/bind118
Udgave nummer23
Antal sider8
ISSN0027-8424
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 8. jun. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS. We wish to thank Andy Knoll for supplying samples from the Chuar Group and the Reward and Wollogorang Formations and to Ed Bolton for sharing his code for the soil carbon oxidation model, and for discussion on diffusion in porous media. We gratefully acknowledge the insightful comments of two anonymous reviewers. The authors acknowledge funding from the Villum Foundation (Grant 16518, D.E.C.), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0603101), the National

Funding Information:
Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA14010101), and the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement 646894, M.A.v.Z.).

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Andy Knoll for supplying samples from the Chuar Group and the Reward and Wollogorang Formations and to Ed Bolton for sharing his code for the soil carbon oxidation model, and for discussion on diffusion in porous media. We gratefully acknowledge the insightful comments of two anonymous reviewers. The authors acknowledge funding from the Villum Foundation (Grant 16518, D.E.C.), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0603101), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41872125, 41530317), the National Science and Technology Major Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2016ZX05004001), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA14010101), and the European Research Council under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement 646894, M.A.v.Z.).

Funding Information:
Natural Science Foundation of China (41872125, 41530317), the National Science and Technology Major Project of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2016ZX05004001), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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