The rise of oxygen in Earth's early ocean and atmosphere

Nature. 2014 Feb 20;506(7488):307-15. doi: 10.1038/nature13068.


The rapid increase of carbon dioxide concentration in Earth's modern atmosphere is a matter of major concern. But for the atmosphere of roughly two-and-half billion years ago, interest centres on a different gas: free oxygen (O2) spawned by early biological production. The initial increase of O2 in the atmosphere, its delayed build-up in the ocean, its increase to near-modern levels in the sea and air two billion years later, and its cause-and-effect relationship with life are among the most compelling stories in Earth's history.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atmosphere / chemistry*
  • Earth, Planet*
  • Evolution, Chemical*
  • History, Ancient
  • Life
  • Oxygen / analysis
  • Oxygen / history
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Photosynthesis
  • Seawater / chemistry*


  • Oxygen