Palaeoclimatology: evidence for hot early oceans?

Nature. 2007 May 3;447(7140):E1; discussion E1-2. doi: 10.1038/nature05830.


The oxygen isotopes in sedimentary cherts (siliceous sediments) have been used to argue that the Precambrian oceans were hot--with temperatures of up to 70 degrees C at 3.3 Gyr before present. Robert and Chaussidon measure silicon isotopes in cherts and arrive at a similar conclusion. We suggest here that both isotope trends may be caused by variations in seawater isotope composition, rather than in ocean temperatures. If so, then the climate of the early Earth may have been temperate, as it is today, and therefore more consistent with evidence for Precambrian glaciations and with constraints inferred from biological evolution.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Carbonates / analysis
  • Climate*
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry*
  • History, Ancient
  • Oceans and Seas
  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Seawater / analysis*
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Silicon / analysis
  • Temperature*
  • Time Factors


  • Carbonates
  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Silicon