Re-animating the chemistry of Precambrian oceans: new perspectives on the environmental backdrop to early life (lecture)

Date: Thursday, 8 March 2018
Time: 7:30PM - 9:30PM
Type: Lecture


Dr Nick Tosca, Oxford University

The Precambrian era, representing ~90% of Earth’s history, witnessed some of the most critical biological milestones in the history of life. From the origin and evolution of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells, to the advent of multicellular and complex animals, these transitions each irreversibly altered the course of biological evolution. But what role did the environment play in ushering in biological innovation? Answering this question requires that we understand how the details of climate and marine chemistry are written in the sedimentary rock record. We have used experimental, theoretical, and analytical approaches to unravel chemical and mineralogical clues in Precambrian rocks that, in turn, lend special insight into the chemical dynamics of Precambrian seas. We are discovering how chemical element cycles such as Fe, Si, and C were connected to one another, and how oceanography exerted a strong control on the availability of key nutrients in Precambrian seawater. Together, these results are painting a new detailed picture of the physical and chemical structure of Earth’s most ancient oceans and how they set the environmental stage for the evolution of ancient microbial life.

Additional Information

Lecture Theatre, Gregory Building