Two-billion-year-old evaporites capture Earth's great oxidation

Clara Blättler, Mark Claire, Anthony Robert Prave, K. Kirsimäe, J. A. Higgins, P. V. Medvedev, A. E. Romashkin, D. V. Rychanchik, Aubrey Lea Zerkle, K. Paiste, T. Kreitsmann, I. L. Millar, J. A. Hayles, H. Bao, A. V. Turchyn, Matthew Robert Warke, A. Lepland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Major changes in atmospheric and ocean chemistry occurred in the Paleoproterozoic Era (2.5–1.6 billion years ago). Increasing oxidation dramatically changed Earth’s surface, but few quantitative constraints exist on this important transition. This study describes the sedimentology, mineralogy, and geochemistry of a remarkably preserved two-billion-year-old and ~800 meter-thick evaporite succession from the Onega Basin in Russian Karelia. The deposit consists of a basal unit dominated by halite (~100 m) followed by anhydrite-magnesite (~500 m) and dolomite-magnesite (~200 m) dominated units. The evaporite minerals robustly constraint marine sulfate concentrations to at least 10 millimoles per kilogram of water, representing an oxidant reservoir equivalent to over 20% of the modern ocean-atmosphere oxidizing capacity. These results show that substantial amounts of surface oxidant accumulated during this critical transition in Earth’s oxygenation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-323
Number of pages5
Issue number6386
Early online date22 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2018


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