Early Earth’s Slowing Rotation Helped Oxygen Build Up


The planet’s spin may have mediated critical atmospheric oxygen

When Judith Klatt began studying the colorful mats of primitive microbes living in a sinkhole at the bottom of Lake Huron, she thought she might learn something about Earth’s early ecosystems. Instead Klatt, a biogeochemist at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, wound up confronting one of geology’s greatest unsolved mysteries: How, exactly, did Earth become the only planet known to have an oxygen-rich atmosphere?

Read the full story in Scientific American.

Gas bubbles out of a bacterial mat in the Lake Huron sinkhole, where cyanobacteria and sulfur-eating microbes vie for space. (Credit: Phil Hartmeyer and NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary_