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Geological Sciences Seminar: Chris Reinhard, Georgia Tech- "The evolutionary geobiology of Earth's oxygen cycle"

Date and Time: 
December 5, 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
GeoCorner, Room 220
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Event Sponsor: 
Department of Geological Science

The amount of molecular oxygen (O2) in Earth’s ocean-atmosphere system has changed dramatically over time. Although a basic framework for the long-term evolution of ocean-atmosphere O2 has long been appreciated, delineating the empirical trajectory of this evolution, the mechanisms underpinning it, and its cause-and-effect relationships with biological innovation represent central outstanding problems in the field of geobiology. Building on previous and ongoing work and drawing from the perspectives of stable isotope geochemistry, Earth system modeling, and experimental evolution, this talk will discuss three case studies centered on the links between biological innovation and evolving ocean-atmosphere O2 levels on Earth: (1) the emergence and early biogeochemical impacts of oxygenic photosynthesis during the Archean and Paleoproterozoic; (2) the influence of ocean ventilation on nutrient levels and energy flow through algal ecosystems during the mid-Proterozoic; and (3) possible links between environmental O2 levels and the evolution of early animal life at the close of the Proterozoic Eon.