Isotopic evidence for massive oxidation of organic matter following the Great Oxidation Event

Lee R Kump, Christopher Junium, Michael A Arthur, Alex Brasier, Anthony Fallick, Victor Melezhik, Aivo Lepland, Alenka E Crne, Genming Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


The stable isotope record of marine carbon indicates that the Proterozoic Eon began and ended with extreme fluctuations in the carbon cycle. In both the Paleoproterozoic [2500 to 1600 million years ago (Ma)] and Neoproterozoic (1000 to 542 Ma), extended intervals of anomalously high carbon isotope ratios (delta C-13) indicate high rates of organic matter burial and release of oxygen to the atmosphere; in the Neoproterozoic, the high delta C-13 interval was punctuated by abrupt swings to low delta C-13, indicating massive oxidation of organic matter. We report a Paleoproterozoic negative delta C-13 excursion that is similar in magnitude and apparent duration to the Neoproterozoic anomaly. This Shunga-Francevillian anomaly may reflect intense oxidative weathering of rocks as the result of the initial establishment of an oxygen-rich atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1694-1696
Number of pages3
Issue number6063
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2011


  • atmospheric oxygen
  • carbon
  • geochemistry
  • constraints
  • deposits
  • nitrogen
  • province
  • oceans
  • cycle
  • rise

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