Fold mountains

Explosion of ocean life 2 billion years ago helped create Earth’s mountains, study finds

The explosion of ocean life 2 billion years ago helped create Earth’s mountains: large amounts of plankton turned into lubricant after they died, allowing rocks to pile up on top of each other

  • A dramatic increase in oxygen around the world 2.3 billion years ago led to an explosion of marine life like plankton
  • There was a large amount of plankton in the oceans about 2 billion years ago
  • When the plankton died, it sank to the bottom of the ocean and turned into graphite
  • Graphite became a lubricant for breaking rocks into slabs, allowing slabs to stack on top of each other
  • This formed massive mountain ranges like the iconic Himalayas










An explosion of ocean life two billion years ago helped form mountains on Earth, including the iconic Himalayas, a new study reveals.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen found that after a dramatic increase in oxygen around 2.3 billion years ago, an abundance of nutrients filled the seas, producing cyanobacteria, or plankton.

Once the large amounts of plankton died, they fell to the ocean floor and formed graphite, which played a crucial role in lubricating the breaking of rocks into slabs.

This allowed the giant slabs to move over 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 form the mountains on Earth, including the iconic Himalayas (pictured), a new study reveals

Professor John Parnell, who led the research, said in a declaration“Mountains are an essential part of the landscape, but the great mountain ranges only formed halfway through Earth’s history, about two billion years ago.

“The geologic record from this period includes evidence of an abundance of organic matter in the oceans, which when dead was preserved as graphite in shale.”

While mountain formation is generally associated with the collision of tectonic plates causing huge slabs of rock to be pushed skyward, the study cites plankton as a key player in creating the natural structures.

The Great Oxidation Event, a period in which the Earth’s atmosphere and shallow ocean first experienced an increase in oxygen, occurred around 2.3 billion years ago. years, which released oxygen into the oceans and formed large amounts of cyanobacteria.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen found that after a dramatic increase in oxygen around 2.3 billion years ago, an abundance of nutrients filled the seas, producing cyanobacteria, or plankton.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen found that after a dramatic increase in oxygen around 2.3 billion years ago, an abundance of nutrients filled the seas, producing cyanobacteria, or plankton.

Once the large amounts of plankton died, they fell to the ocean floor and formed graphite, which played a crucial role in lubricating the breaking of rocks into slabs.

Once the large amounts of plankton died, they fell to the ocean floor and formed graphite, which played a crucial role in lubricating the breaking of rocks into slabs.

Once the plankton died, their carbon-rich remains fell to the ocean floor and turned into graphite which acted as a natural lubricant.

According to the study published in Nature, plankton underwent several evolutions before dying.

This includes the growth of larger and developing sheaths, or coating, which has increased cellular carbon mass.

‘A peak of Paleoproterozoic orogeny at ~2 Ga [2 billion] is marked by a large number of individual orogens34, the overall length of the preserved orogen34 and a high incidence of metamorphism,” the study reads.

The team notes that this triggered the first widespread formation of tall mountains on Earth, with most appearing 1.95 to 1.65 billion years ago.

The team notes that this triggered the first widespread formation of tall mountains on Earth, with most appearing 1.95 to 1.65 billion years ago.

The team notes that this triggered the first widespread formation of tall mountains on Earth, with most appearing 1.95 to 1.65 billion years ago.

“Although it has long been known that tectonic processes were lubricated, our research shows that it was the abundance of carbon in the ocean that played a crucial role in the thickening of the crust that built the chains. of Earth’s mountains,” Parnell said.

“We can see evidence of this in the northwest of Scotland, where you can still find the roots of ancient mountains and the slippery graphite that helped build them, in places like Harris, Tiree and Gairloch.”

“Ultimately, what our research showed was that the key to mountain formation was life, demonstrating that the Earth and its biosphere are intimately linked in ways that had not previously been understood. .”