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2002 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Causes and Consequences of the Diversification and Extinction of Metazoans: Neoproterozoic Variations - Michael Arthur

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

The objective is to document and interpret the longer-term history of the Proterozoic ocean. We have made great progress in this project, having now produced sulfur isotope records for the Neoproterozoic of Australia, Namibia and the western U.S. We have found at least four major positive excursions in seawater sulfur isotopic composition, two of which are closely associated with "cap carbonates" following glacial epochs [pub: Hurtgen et al., in press, EPSL]. We have introduced a new model for the evolution of Proterozoic climate that involves enhanced methane fluxes to the atmosphere during a prolonged period of low oceanic sulfate concentration followed by decreased methane fluxes and a reduced methane-greenhouse effect in the late Proterozoic as the result of rising oceanic sulfate concentration. This ultimately led to the first Snowball Earth episode [pub: Pavlov et al., submitted, Geology]. We have also constructed a model for the marine nitrogen cycle that predicts that a major increase in nitrogen isotopic values of oceanic DIN should have occurred at the Archean/Proterozoic boundary.

    Michael Arthur
    Project Investigator

    Lee Kump

    Mark Patzkowsky

    Alan Kaufman

    Matthew Hurtgen
    Graduate Student

    Objective 5.0
    Describe the sequences of causes and effects associated with the development of Earth's early biosphere and the global environment.

    Objective 7.0
    Identify the environmental limits for life by examining biological adaptations to extremes in environmental conditions.

    Objective 12.0
    Define climatological and geological effects upon the limits of habitable zones around the Sun and other stars to help define the frequency of habitable planets in the universe.

    Objective 14.0
    Determine the resilience of local and global ecosystems through their response to natural and human-induced disturbances.