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Atmospheric oxygen regulation at low Proterozoic levels by incomplete oxidative weathering of sedimentary organic carbon
Daines, S.J.; Mills, B.J.W.; Lenton, T.M. (2017). Atmospheric oxygen regulation at low Proterozoic levels by incomplete oxidative weathering of sedimentary organic carbon. Nature Comm. 8(14379): 11 pp. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1038/ncomms14379
In: Nature Communications. Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2041-1723; e-ISSN 2041-1723, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Cycles > Chemical cycles > Geochemical cycle > Biogeochemical cycle > Nutrient cycles > Carbon cycle

Authors  Top 
  • Daines, S.J.
  • Mills, B.J.W.
  • Lenton, T.M.

Abstract
    It is unclear why atmospheric oxygen remained trapped at low levels for more than 1.5 billion years following the Paleoproterozoic Great Oxidation Event. Here, we use models for erosion, weathering and biogeochemical cycling to show that this can be explained by the tectonic recycling of previously accumulated sedimentary organic carbon, combined with the oxygen sensitivity of oxidative weathering. Our results indicate a strong negative feedback regime when atmospheric oxygen concentration is of order pO2∼0.1 PAL (present atmospheric level), but that stability is lost at pO2<0.01 PAL. Within these limits, the carbonate carbon isotope (δ13C) record becomes insensitive to changes in organic carbon burial rate, due to counterbalancing changes in the weathering of isotopically light organic carbon. This can explain the lack of secular trend in the Precambrian δ13C record, and reopens the possibility that increased biological productivity and resultant organic carbon burial drove the Great Oxidation Event.

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