The rise of oxygen and siderite oxidation during the Lomagundi event

Aviv Bachan, Lee R. Kump

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The Paleoproterozoic Lomagundi Event is an interval of 130-250 million years, ca. 2.3-2.1 billion years ago, in which extraordinarily 13C enriched (>10‰) limestones and dolostones occur globally. The high levels of organic carbon burial implied by the positive δ13C values suggest the production of vast quantities of O2 as well as an alkalinity imbalance demanding extremely low levels of weathering. The oxidation of sulfides has been proposed as a mechanism capable of ameliorating these imbalances: It is a potent sink for O2 as well as a source of acidity. However, sulfide oxidation consumes more O2 than it can supply CO2, leading to insurmountable imbalances in both carbon and oxygen. In contrast, the oxidation of siderite (FeCO3 proper, as well as other Fe2+-bearing carbonate minerals), produces 4 times more CO2 than it consumes O2 and is a common - although often overlooked - constituent of Archean and Early Proterozoic sedimentary successions. Here we propose that following the initial rise of O2 in the atmosphere, oxidation of siderite provided the necessary carbon for the continued oxidation of sulfides, burial of organic carbon, and, most importantly, accumulation of free O2. The duration and magnitude of the Lomagundi Event were determined by the size of the preexisting Archean siderite reservoir, which was consumed through oxidative weathering. Our proposal helps resolve a long-standing conundrum and advances our understanding of the geologic history of atmospheric O2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6562-6567
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
StatePublished - May 26 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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