DOI: 10.1029/2023gl106694 ISSN: 0094-8276

Climate Variability Leads to Multiple Oxygenation Episodes Across the Great Oxidation Event

Daniel Garduno Ruiz, Colin Goldblatt, Anne‐Sofie Ahm
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Geophysics


The temporal relationship between global glaciations and the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) suggests that climate change played an important role in Earth's oxygenation. The potential role of temperature is captured by the stratigraphic proximity between glacial deposits and sediments containing mass‐independent fractionation of sulfur isotopes (MIF‐S). We use a time‐dependent one‐dimensional photochemical model to investigate whether temperature changes associated with global glaciations can drive oscillations in atmospheric O2 levels and MIF‐S production across the GOE. We find that extreme climate change can cause atmospheric O2 to oscillate between pre (<10−6 times the present atmospheric level, PAL) and post‐GOE (>10−5 PAL) levels. Post‐glacial hot‐moist greenhouse climates lead to post‐GOE O2 levels because the abundant H2O vapor and oxidizing radicals drive the depletion of reduced species. This pattern is generally consistent with the MIF‐S signal observed in the sedimentary record, suggesting a link between global glaciations and O2 oscillations across the GOE.

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