Scientists uncover water droplets in mineral deposits from an ancient ocean; probable oxygenation event in Earth’s history.
Water droplets discovered in mineral deposits by scientists from India’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Japan’s Niigata University are thought to be from an ancient ocean that existed 600 million years ago.
The IISc announced on Thursday that investigation of the deposits indicated calcium and magnesium carbonates. This result prompted the scientists’ team to speculate that there may have been a large oxygenation event in Earth’s past.
The Snowball Earth glaciation, which is thought to have occurred between 700 and 500 million years ago, may have resulted in the Earth being covered by substantial amounts of ice. The Second Great Oxygenation Event, which occurr after this one, increased the amount of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere and facilitated the development of sophisticated living forms.
Scientists have not been able to fully comprehend how these events are linked due to a lack of well-preserved fossils and the disappearance of all prior oceans that occurred in Earth’s history, according to the IISc statement, but exposure to marine rocks like these could help them find some answers.
The new research could help provide information about ancient oceanic conditions like pH, chemistry and isotopic composition which have only been theorized or modelled so far. It could also help answer questions related to the evolution of oceans, Earth’s history and even life.
Prakash Chandra Arya, an IISc PhD student and the study’s first author, said, “We don’t know much about former oceans… How different or similar were they to modern-day oceans? What was their chemical and isotopic makeup, and were they more acidic or basic, nutrient-rich or deficient, warm or cold?”
In reference to a potential Himalayan ocean, the study’s co-author Sajeev Krishnan stated, “At this time, there was no flow in the waters, and consequently no calcium input. The amount of magnesium increases when there is no flow or calcium input because more calcium precipitates, according to Sajeev Krishnan, a professor at CEaS and the study’s corresponding author.
(With inputs from PTI)