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Centre for Geobiology

Publication Highlight

An Atlas to Earth’s Oxygenation

Focusing on the wealth of information gleaned from the recent Fennoscandian Arctic Russia - Drilling Early Earth Project (FAR-DEEP), “Reading the Archive of Earth’s Oxygenation” is a veritable atlas for current knowledge of a literally life-changing period in Earth’s history.

The recently published, three-part book, “Reading the Archive of Earth’s Oxygenation” (Springer 2012, edited by CGB adjunct professor Victor Melezhik) is a multinational geologic achievement documenting a key period of Earth’s early geobiosphere. Around 2.3 billion years ago, atmospheric free oxygen increased dramatically, altering the previously anoxic Earth atmosphere to an irreversibly oxic environment. The changes in chemical cycling during this period of progressive oxygenation of Earth's surface environments was catastrophic to existing organisms, but also created the modern atmospheric conditions necessary for terrestrial life as we know it.

In 2007, the International Continental Scientific Drilling Project (ICDP) coordinated the FAR-DEEP expedition in response to new initiatives to explore the evolution of the Earth and its ancient biosphere by examining key time intervals. 3560 meters of fresh drill core were recovered and subsequently archived at the NGU.

The book series shows these cores collected during the FAR-DEEP expedition and natural exposures of the Palaeoproterozoic rocks of the Fennoscandian Shield meticulously documented using high-quality photographs. The books extraordinary high-resolution geological photos are associated with geochemical data, maps, and time-slice reconstructions of palaeoenvironmental settings, adding critical information about the Earth system dynamics in reaction to the progressive oxygenation of terrestrial biosphere and geosphere.

The dialogue in these volumes goes far beyond a summation of the work completed in the FAR-DEEP project: invited expert authors delve into a wide-ranging review of knowledge of the Palaeoproterozoic events and put into context the relationship of these events with Earth’s oxygenation. The text emphasises outstanding questions for future researchers to uncover and acts as a field guide to help experienced researchers and geology students alike recognize these rock formations at disparate locations.

The cores from the FAR-DEEP project are publically available at the Geological Survey of Norway in Trondheim. See the ICDP and Geological Survey of Norway websites for more details on the FAR-DEEP project.