- Plankton-like marine life exploded 2.3 billion years ago due to a dramatic increase in the world’s oxygen
- About 2 billion years ago there was a large amount of plankton in the oceans
- When the plankton died, they sank to the ocean floor and turned to graphite
- Graphite became the lubricant for the rocks in the slab to break down, causing the slabs to pile up on top of each other.
- It created huge mountain ranges like the iconic Himalayas
A new study suggests that an explosion of ocean life two billion years ago helped form mountains on Earth, including the iconic Himalayas.
Scientists at the University of Aberdeen found that after a dramatic increase in oxygen about 2.3 billion years ago, an abundance of nutrients filled the ocean resulting in cyanobacteria, or plankton.
Once large amounts of plankton died, they fell to the ocean floor and graphite was formed, which played a key role in lubricating breaks in slabs of rocks.
This allowed the huge slabs to move on top of each other to form mountains over the next millions of years.
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An explosion of ocean life two billion years ago helped create mountains on Earth, including the iconic Himalayas (pictured), a new study suggests
Professor John Parnell, who led the research, said: StatementMountains are an essential part of the landscape, but large mountain ranges formed about two billion years ago, about halfway through Earth’s history.
‘The geological record of this period includes evidence of an abundance of organic matter in the oceans, which was preserved as graphite in shale when they died out.’
While mountain formation is usually associated with the collision of tectonic plates, causing huge slabs of rock to rise skyward, the study cites plankton as a major player in the formation of natural formations.
The Great Oxidation Event, a time period when Earth’s atmosphere and shallow ocean first experienced an increase in oxygen content, occurred about 2.3 billion years ago, which released oxygen into the oceans and formed large amounts of cyanobacteria.
Scientists at the University of Aberdeen found that after a dramatic increase in oxygen about 2.3 billion years ago, an abundance of nutrients filled the ocean, resulting in cyanobacteria, or plankton.
Once large amounts of plankton died, they fell to the ocean floor and graphite was formed, which played an important role in lubricating breaks in slabs of rocks.
Once the plankton died, their carbon-rich remains fell to the ocean floor and turned into graphite that acted as a natural lubricant.
According to the study published in Nature, Plankton underwent many developments before death.
This includes the growing large and developing sheath, or a sheath, which increased the mass of cellular carbon.
~2 Ga. a peak in orogenesis during the Paleoproterozoic [2 billion] The study noted a large number of individual orogens34, marked by overall conserved orogen length, and a high incidence of metamorphosis.
The team noted that this marked the first widespread formation of high mountains on Earth, with most appearing between 1.95 and 1.65 billion years ago.
The team noted that this gave rise to the first widespread formation of high mountains on Earth, with most appearing between 1.95 and 1.65 billion years ago.
Parnell said, “Although it has long been known that tectonic processes were lubricated, our research suggests that it was the extreme abundance of carbon in the ocean that played a key role in the crustal thickness that makes up Earth’s mountain ranges.” “
‘We can see evidence in the north-west of Scotland, where the roots of ancient mountains and the slippery graphite that helped form them can still be found at places such as Harris, Tyree and Gairloch.’
‘Ultimately what our research has shown is that life was key to the formation of mountains, showing that Earth and its biosphere are closely linked in ways that were not previously understood.’