Introduction: The proterozoic

Gregory S. Jenkins, Christopher P. McKay, Mark A.S. McMenamin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The Proterozoic (2.5 Ga–545 Ma) is perhaps the most intriguing period in Earth’s history. In a typical high school physical science textbook it may be presented as a rather boring period that today’s student is happy to pass over in lieu of the Mesozoic and the extinction of Tyrannosaurus rex by a large asteroid. In reality this was a period full of excitement as it opens (in the PalaeoProterozoic) with low-latitude glaciation in concert with a rise in atmospheric oxygen. The Proterozoic ends with a glacial period and a possible rise in atmospheric oxygen levels. Other highlights of the Proterozoic include: three or more severe glacial events, a long period (1 billion years) of apparent warmth without evidence of glacial deposits, significant fluctuations in δC13, two or more periods where supercontinents were assembled, cap carbonates, banded iron formations, the rise of eukaryotes and the first complex life. The juxtaposition of extreme climate conditions and major evolutionary change among complex organisms during the Proterozoic is particularly puzzling, and begs the following question: What are the factors controlling the appearance of complex life?.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Extreme Proterozoic
Subtitle of host publicationGeology, Geochemistry, and Climate, 2004
EditorsChristopher P. McKay, Mark A.S. McMenamin, Linda Sohl, Gregory S. Jenkins
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781118666289
ISBN (Print)9780875904115
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

Publication series

NameGeophysical Monograph Series
ISSN (Print)0065-8448
ISSN (Electronic)2328-8779

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics


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