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Stretching the envelope of past surface environments : Neoproterozoic glacial lakes from Svalbard.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2/01/2009
JournalScience
Journal number5910
Volume323
Number of pages4
Pages119-122
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The oxygen isotope composition of terrestrial sulfate is affected measurably by many Earth- surface processes. During the Neoproterozoic, severe " snowball" glaciations would have had an extreme impact on the biosphere and the atmosphere. Here, we report that sulfate extracted from carbonate lenses within a Neoproterozoic glacial diamictite suite from Svalbard, with an age of similar to 635 million years ago, falls well outside the currently known natural range of triple oxygen isotope compositions and indicates that the atmosphere had either an exceptionally high atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration or an utterly unfamiliar oxygen cycle during deposition of the diamictites.