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Precambrian Res. 1985;28:205-22.

Iron and sulfur in the pre-biologic ocean.

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  • 1Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.

Abstract

Tentative geochemical cycles for the pre-biologic Earth are developed by comparing the relative fluxes of oxygen, dissolved iron, and sulfide to the atmosphere and ocean. The flux of iron is found to exceed both the oxygen and the sulfide fluxes. Because of the insolubility of iron oxides and sulfides the implication is that dissolved iron was fairly abundant and that oxygen and sulfide were rare in the atmosphere and ocean. Sulfate, produced by the oxidation of volcanogenic sulfur gases, was the most abundant sulfur species in the ocean, but its concentration was low by modern standards because of the absence of the river-borne flux of dissolved sulfate produced by oxidative weathering of the continents. These findings are consistent with the geologic record of the isotopic composition of sedimentary sulfates and sulfides. Except in restricted environments, the sulfur metabolism of the earliest organisms probably involved oxidized sulfur species not sulfide.

PMID:
11539662
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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