7.1 The End of Mass-Independent Fractionation of Sulphur Isotopes

  • M. Reuschel
  • H. Strauss
  • A. Lepland
Part of the Frontiers in Earth Sciences book series (FRONTIERS)


The Archaean-Proterozoic transition is marked by a number of fundamental upheavals in respect to geological, tectonic, geochemical, biological and climatic aspects. Of these, the most significant change appears to be a substantial increase in atmospheric oxygen concentration initiating the irreversible oxygenation of our planet. It has been proposed that a major oxygenation event occurred during the early Palaeoproterozoic some 2.3 Ga ago, widely termed the “Great Oxidation Event” (“GOE”, Holland 1999, 2006). Evidence for this generally accepted view (but see Ohmoto 1999; Ohmoto et al. 2006, for a different view) stems from geological, mineralogical and geochemical data. Of these, the study of multiple sulphur isotopes, i.e. the analysis of all four stable isotopes of sulphur (32S, 33S, 34S and 36S) developed recently into the central approach for reconstructing the chemical composition of Earth’s early atmosphere, and secular variations thereof. Specifically, it has been suggested that mass-independently fractionated sulphur isotopes, archived in sediments of Archaean and early Paleoproterozoic age, provide a reliable tool for reconstructing past atmospheric oxygen concentrations (Farquhar et al. 2000; Pavlov and Kasting 2002; Ueno et al. 2009).


Sulphur Isotopic Composition Bacterial Sulphate Reduction Seawater Sulphate Sedimentary Sulphide Sulphur Isotope Fractionation 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für Geologie und PaläontologieWestfälische Wilhelms-Universität MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.Geological Survey of NorwayTrondheimNorway

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