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Rise of atmospheric oxygen more complicated than previously thought

12/1/2011

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The appearance of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere probably did not occur as a single event, but as a long series of starts and stops, according to an international team of researchers who investigated rock cores from the FAR DEEP project.

The Fennoscandia Arctic Russia - Drilling Early Earth Project -- FAR DEEP -- took place during the summer of 2007 near Murmansk in the northwest region of Russia. The project, part of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program, drilled a series of shallow, two-inch diameter cores and, by overlapping them, created a record representing stone deposited during the Proterozoic Eon -- 2,500 million to 542 million years ago.

"We've always thought that oxygen came into the atmosphere really quickly during an event," said Lee R. Kump, professor and head of geosciences, Penn State. "We are no longer looking for an event. Now we are looking for when and why oxygen became a stable part of the Earth's atmosphere." (click here for entire article)

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