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Explosive growth of life on Earth fueled by early greening of planet
Date:7/8/2009

ta. They dubbed it the "forbidden zone."

"If previous interpretations of carbon isotope data were correct, there would be no forbidden zone on these cross plots," Knauth said. "The forbidden zone would be full of Neoproterozoic data."

"These zones show that the isotopic fingerprints in limestone we see today started in the late Precambrian and must have involved the simultaneous influx of rain water that fell on vegetated areas, infiltrated into coastal ground waters and mixed with marine pore fluids. During sea level drops, these coastal mixing zones are dragged over vast geographic regions of the flooded continents of the Neoproterozoic," Knauth said. "Vast areas of limestone can form in these mixed pore fluids."

All of which points to an environmental trigger of the Cambrian explosion of life.

"Our work presents a simple, alternative view of the thousands of carbon isotope measurements that had been taken as evidence of geochemical catastrophes in the ocean," Knauth explained. "It requires that there was an explosive greening of Earth's land surfaces with pioneer vegetation several hundred million years prior to the evolution of vascular plants, but it explains how a massive increase in Earth's oxygen could happen, which has been long postulated as necessary for animals to evolve big time."

"The isotopes are screaming that this happened in the Neoproterozoic," he added.


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Contact: Skip Derra
skip.derra@asu.edu
480-965-4823
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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