Oxidant abundances in rainwater and the evolution of atmospheric oxygen.

J. F. Kasting, H. D. Holland, J. P. Pinto

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A one-dimensional photochemical model has been used to estimate the flux of dissolved hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and of other soluble species in rainwater as a function of atmospheric oxygen level. H2O2 should have replaced O2 as the dominant oxidant in rainwater at oxygen levels below 10-3-10-2 times the present atmospheric level (PAL). The exact value of pO2 at which H2O2 becomes more important than O2 depends on the abundance of trace gases such as CO, CH4, and NO. H2O2 was probably an important oxidant even in an O2-free atmosphere, provided that CO2 levels were significantly higher than today's. In model atmospheres containing free O2 the concentration of photochemically produced oxidants generally exceeds that the photochemically produced reductants. The oxidizing power of rainwater is therefore greater than that due to dissolved molecular O2 alone. The difference is small at present but becomes important at O2 levels less than 10-3 PAL. At O2 levels between 10-4 and 10-5 PAL the oxidizing power of rainwater is almost independent of pO2. Precambrian soils in which a part or all of the Fe2+ in their source rocks has been oxidized to Fe3+ could therefore have developed in the presence of an atmosphere with very low values of pO2. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10497-10510
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberD6
StatePublished - 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Soil Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Palaeontology
  • Ecology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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