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Salinity history of the Earth's early ocean


It is commonly thought that the oceans are becoming saltier with time as sodium and chlorine are weathered out of continental rocks and transported to the sea. Here we argue that the salinity of the early ocean was 1.5 to 2 times the modern value, and that it did not decline significantly until surprisingly late in the Earth's history. If correct, this theory could help explain why the evolution of higher life took so long.

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Figure 1: History of continents (after ref 4), record of salt deposition for the past 540 million years (after ref. 2) and Sr isotope record of marine sediments (after ref. 3).


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Knauth, L. Salinity history of the Earth's early ocean. Nature 395, 554–555 (1998).

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