Emergence of an aerobic biosphere during the Archean-Proterozoic transition: Challenges of future research
Victor Melezhik, Anthony Fallick, Eero Hanski, Lee Kump, Aivo Lepland, Anthony Prave, Harald Strauss November 2005 GSA Today Volume 15, Issue 11
The earth system experienced a series of fundamental upheavals throughout the Archean-Paleoproterozoic transition (ca. 2500-2000 Ma). Most important were the establishment of an oxygen-rich atmosphere and the emergence of an aerobic biosphere. This paper describes evidence of the hallmark events of that transition, incluing widespread igneous activity, the global Huronian glaciation, a rise in atmospheric oxygen, the protracted and large-magnitude Lomagundi-Jatuli carbon isotope excursion, a substantial increase in the sea-water sulfate reservoir, changes in the sulfur and phosphorus cycles, a radical modification in recycling of organic matter, and the Shunga Event - the accumulation of unprecedented organic-matter-rich sediments and the oldest known inferred generation of significant petroleum. Current research efforts are focused on providing an accurate temporal framework for these events and linking them into a coherent story of earth system evolution.