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Palaeoproterozoic oxygenated oceans following the Lomagundi–Jatuli Event


The approximately 2,220–2,060 million years old Lomagundi–Jatuli Event was the longest positive carbon isotope excursion in Earth history and is traditionally interpreted to reflect an increased organic carbon burial and a transient rise in atmospheric O2. However, it is widely held that O2 levels collapsed for more than a billion years after this. Here we show that black shales postdating the Lomagundi–Jatuli Event from the approximately 2,000 million years old Zaonega Formation contain the highest redox-sensitive trace metal concentrations reported in sediments deposited before the Neoproterozoic (maximum concentrations of Mo = 1,009 μg g−1, U = 238 μg g−1 and Re = 516 ng g−1). This unit also contains the most positive Precambrian shale U isotope values measured to date (maximum 238U/235U ratio of 0.79‰), which provides novel evidence that there was a transition to modern-like biogeochemical cycling during the Palaeoproterozoic. Although these records do not preclude a return to anoxia during the Palaeoproterozoic, they uniquely suggest that the oceans remained well-oxygenated millions of years after the termination of the Lomagundi–Jatuli Event.

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Fig. 1: Lithology and geochemistry of the ZF.
Fig. 2: Secular trends in RSE concentrations from anoxic shales.

Data availability

The novel ZF geochemical data presented here will be available in the PANGAEA data repository at (drill cores OnZaP-1 and 355) and (drill core OPH56). Geochemical Source Data and raw images for Supplementary Figures are available at figshare ( Source Data for Figs. 1 and 2 are available as Source Data files.


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E. Ponzevera, A. De Prunelé, M. L. Rouget, C. Liorzou, K. von Gunten and F. Zhang are thanked for help with trace element and isotope analyses. K.M., K.K., A.L., T.K., P.P. and K.P. were supported by Estonian Research Council grant PRG447. K.M. was further supported by the Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia mobility grant within Archimedes Foundation’s The Kristjan Jaak Scholarship program ‘Doctoral Study Abroad’; K.P. was supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence funding scheme grant no. 223259; A.E.R. acknowledges support from the state assignment of IG KarRC RAS; N.J.P. and C.T.R. acknowledge support from the NASA Alternative Earths Astrobiology Institute; K.O.K. was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery grant (RGPIN-165831).

Author information




A.L., K.K., K.O.K., S.V.L. and K.M. conceived the study. K.M., K.P., T.K., A.E.R., K.K. and A.L. conducted the field studies and organized the sample acquisition. K.P., T.K., A.E.R., K.K. and A.L. provided the geological and sedimentary background. K.P. provided additional TOC data. K.M., L.J.R., S.V.L., M.T., P.P., C.T.R., K.L., A.V. and K.O.K. measured and interpreted the trace metal abundance data. M.T., S.V.L. and K.M. analysed and interpreted the Mo isotope data. N.J.P., L.J.R. and K.M. analysed and interpreted the U isotope data. S.V.L., T.K., P.P. and K.K. analysed and interpreted the in situ trace metal abundance. K.M. wrote the manuscript with input from all the co-authors.

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Correspondence to Kaarel Mänd.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–6, Discussion and Methods.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 1

Geochemical Source Data.

Source Data Fig. 2

Geochemical Source Data.

Source Data Supplementary Fig. S1

Geographical Data.

Source Data Supplementary Fig. S2

Geochemical Source Data.

Source Data Supplementary Fig. S3

Geochemical Source Data.

Source Data Supplementary Fig. S4

Geochemical Source Data.

Source Data Supplementary Fig. S5

Geochemical Source Data.

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Mänd, K., Lalonde, S.V., Robbins, L.J. et al. Palaeoproterozoic oxygenated oceans following the Lomagundi–Jatuli Event. Nat. Geosci. 13, 302–306 (2020).

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