No coincidence? Exploring the connection between the Great Oxidation Event and craton stabilization during the Archean-Proterozoic transition

Friday, 19 December 2014: 2:40 PM
Lee Robert Kump, Pennsylvania State Univ, University Park, PA, United States
As geochronological constraints on the timing of the Great Oxidation Event (here defined as the passage of atmospheric oxygen levels through the proposed upper limit of 10-5 of present) have improved, it has become increasingly clear that this event is somehow tied to the tectonic factors that have defined the Archean-Proterozoic boundary for decades, namely the stabilization of continental cratons allowing for the growth of large continents. We have proposed two connections in the past: 1) elevated late Archean mantle plume activity brought oxidized material from the lithospheric graveyard to the upper mantle, reducing the oxygen fugacity of post-Archean volcanism, and 2) that the stabilization of the cratons allowed for a proportional increase in less-reducing, subaerial volcanism at the expense of more reducing, submarine volcanism. Critiques of these two proposals will be addressed in the context of subsequent work by the geosciences community on the geodynamics and geochemistry of the Archean-Proterozoic transition, and a synthetic hypothesis for a tectonic driver for atmospheric oxygenation will be presented.