7.7 The Earliest Phosphorites: Radical Change in the Phosphorus Cycle During the Palaeoproterozoic

  • Aivo Lepland
  • Victor A. Melezhik
  • Dominic Papineau
  • Alexander E. Romashkin
  • Lauri Joosu
Part of the Frontiers in Earth Sciences book series (FRONTIERS)


Phosphate is an essential and growth-limiting nutrient required by all forms of life, as it is a key component of many important macro-molecules. These macro-molecules are involved in energy transport, information storage, and structural support functions include membrane lipids, proteins, and nucleic acids. The global phosphorus cycle, which includes only dissolved and solid phases without any gaseous components, is strongly influenced by biological processes (Gulbrandsen 1969; Jahnke 1992; Föllmi 1996). Continental weathering and riverine discharges are the most important sources delivering both particulate and dissolved phosphate into the oceans (Froelich et al. 1982; Föllmi 1995). Long-term changes in the phosphorus cycle, such as variations in sources, concentration of dissolved seawater phosphate, formation of phosphorite deposits, and sequestration in biomass, are linked with other biogeochemical cycles and track major changes in Earth’s environmental conditions (Sheldon 1980; Baturin 1982; Papineau 2010; Planavsky et al. 2010). Biologic influence upon the phosphorus cycle can be traced back to the early Archaean (Blake et al. 2010). Ancient biologic processing of phosphate is inferred from the oxygen isotope ratios of some phosphates in 3200–3500 Ma sediments that are similar to those of modern marine biogenic phosphates (Blake et al. 2010).


Band Iron Formation Large Igneous Province Econ Geol Phosphorus Cycle Fennoscandian Shield 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aivo Lepland
    • 1
  • Victor A. Melezhik
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dominic Papineau
    • 3
  • Alexander E. Romashkin
    • 4
  • Lauri Joosu
    • 5
  1. 1.Geological Survey of NorwayTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Centre for GeobiologyUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Geology, Karelian Research CentreRussian Academy of SciencesPetrozavodskRussia
  5. 5.Department of Geology, Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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