, Volume 70, Issue 11, pp 536-539

The Oklo phenomenon

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Abstract

Until recently, scientists believed that the chemical elements were synthesized only in stars. The discovery of the Oklo phenomenon in the Republic of Gabon in 1972 has revealed, however, that a nuclear “fire” had existed on the earth and largescale transmutations of the elements were occurring on our planet 1.7·109 years ago. The formation of natural (or Pre-Fermi) reactors is closely related to the appearance of life on our planet earth. The Pre-Fermi reactors were probably never formed until about 2·109 years ago, when oxygen was injected into the earth's atmosphere by a new generation of living organisms carrying out photosynthesis.