Breathing? Thank Volcanoes, Tectonics and Bacteria

Written by Jade Boyd Rice University


 Courtesy of NASA Ames/David J. Des Marais/Thomas W. Scattergood/Linda L. Jahnke)

Earth’s breathable atmosphere is key for life, and a new study suggests that the first burst of oxygen was added by a spate of volcanic eruptions brought about by tectonics.

The evolution of life as depicted in a mural at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. The rise of oxygen from a trace element to a primary atmospheric component was an important evolutionary development.

The study by geoscientists at Rice University offers a new theory to help explain the appearance of significant concentrations of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere about 2.5 billion years ago, something scientists call the Great Oxidation Event (GOE). The research appears this week in Nature Geoscience.

Source: http://www.ineffableisland.com/2019/12/breathing-thank-volcanoes-tectonics-and.html


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Comments (4)

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    Joseph Olson

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    “Volcanic CO2” and “Volcanic Halocarbons” by Timothy Casey > Geologist-1011(.)net

    The atmosphere is being constantly eroded by solar wind and ionized by solar, galactic gamma ray bursts. It is being replaced at less than loss rate by mantle fission. Jurassic pterodactyls wingspan indicates the atmosphere was four times denser, also explaining smaller lung/body mass ratios and reduced nighttime cooling for cold blooded reptiles.

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    jerry krause

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    Hi Jade,

    You wrote: “The rise of oxygen from a trace element to a primary atmospheric component was an important evolutionary development.”

    Oxygen was never a trace element. That is unless you ignore water and carbon dioxide.

    Have a good day, Jerry

  • Avatar

    jerry krause

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    Hi Jade,

    As I review what I just wrote, I see the need to clarify it a bit. I should have written: Oxygen was never a trace element. That is unless you ignore water and carbon dioxide and plants (life). It is seems this thing we call life is pretty much only found on this planet (Earth). And if ‘life’ is the result of random events, I ask you why have scientists been unable to find evidence of it any other place. Surely there must be planets as ‘old’ as the Earth where it could have also occurred as the result of random events.

    Have a good day, Jerry

  • Avatar

    tom0mason

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    “Scientists have long pointed to photosynthesis — a process that produces waste oxygen — as a likely source for increased oxygen during the GOE. Dasgupta said the new theory doesn’t discount the role that the first photosynthetic organisms, cyanobacteria, played in the GOE. “

    Another nice theory I wonder if we’ll ever truly know.

Comments are closed