Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Phosphorus and the gust of fresh air

Evidence of intense phosphorus weathering following 'snowball Earth' glaciations raises a further possibility — that this revved-up nutrient cycle drove conditions for the explosion of animal life. See Letter p.1088

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Snowball Earth glaciations and the rise in oxygen levels around 700 million years ago4.


  1. Catling, D. C., Glein, C. R., Zahnle, K. J. & McKay, C. P. Astrobiology 5, 415–438 (2005).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Hoffman, P. F., Kaufmann, A. J., Halverson, G. P. & Schrag, D. P. Science 281, 1342–1346 (1998).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Hoffman, P. F. & Schrag, D. P. Terra Nova 14, 129–155 (2002).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Planavsky, N. J. et al. Nature 467, 1088–1090 (2010).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Tyrell, T. Nature 400, 525–531 (1999).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. Mort, H. P. et al. Geology 35, 483–486 (2007).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Paytan, A. & McLaughlin, K. Chem. Rev. 107, 563–576 (2007).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Diaz, J. et al. Science 320, 652–655 (2008).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Berner, R. A. Nature 426, 323–326 (2003).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Föllmi, K. B., Hosein, R., Arn, K. & Steinmann, P. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 73, 2252–2282 (2009).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Filippelli, G. M. et al. Quat. Res. 66, 158–166 (2006).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Filippelli, G. Phosphorus and the gust of fresh air. Nature 467, 1052–1053 (2010).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing