Early Earth’s Slowing Rotation Helped Oxygen Build Up

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

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_