Rare ‘Green Rust’ Offers Glimpse of Ancient Seas

Rare ‘Green Rust’ Offers Glimpse of Ancient Seas

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A rare and highly reactive iron mineral called green rust appears to have played an important role in ancient oceans, suggest new findings, which may have implications for the formation of Earth’s early atmosphere. The research team identified green rust in an Indonesian lake where conditions mimic those of the ancient oceans, and found the rust played an important role removing an important element, nickel, from the water.

If green rust accomplished something similar in ancient oceans, it could potentially have played an indirect role in the accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere, a process that picked up speed about 2.3 billion years ago with the first great rise in atmospheric oxygen, called the Great Oxidation Event. The oxygenation of the atmosphere allowed more complex life, including humans, to evolve.

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