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New Evidence for First Production of Oxygen On Earth

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A new study is believed to have resolved a major debate about when oxygen began to be produced on Earth and how long it took before oxygen levels were enough to support the growth of life.

Winthrop Professor Mark Barley, from The University of Western Australia's Centre for Exploration Targeting, and colleagues from the University of Alberta led by Professor Kurt Konhauser, made the discovery by examining key elements in banded iron formations through time.

The study, published in the journal Nature, has identified how links between tectonics and ocean and land chemistry combined to give rise to life on earth about 2.5 billion years ago, during a period known as the Great Oxidation Event (GOE). The GOE changed surface environments on Earth and ultimately made advanced life possible.

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