Globally asynchronous sulphur isotope signals require re-definition of the Great Oxidation Event

Pascal Philippot, Janaína N. Ávila, Bryan A. Killingsworth, Svetlana Tessalina, Franck Baton, Tom Caquineau, Elodie Muller, Ernesto Pecoits, Pierre Cartigny, Stefan V. Lalonde, Trevor R. Ireland, Christophe Thomazo, Martin J. Van Kranendonk, Vincent Busigny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


The Great Oxidation Event (GOE) has been defined as the time interval when sufficient atmospheric oxygen accumulated to prevent the generation and preservation of mass-independent fractionation of sulphur isotopes (MIF-S) in sedimentary rocks. Existing correlations suggest that the GOE was rapid and globally synchronous. Here we apply sulphur isotope analysis of diagenetic sulphides combined with U-Pb and Re-Os geochronology to document the sulphur cycle evolution in Western Australia spanning the GOE. Our data indicate that, from ~2.45 Gyr to beyond 2.31 Gyr, MIF-S was preserved in sulphides punctuated by several episodes of MIF-S disappearance. These results establish the MIF-S record as asynchronous between South Africa, North America and Australia, argue for regional-scale modulation of MIF-S memory effects due to oxidative weathering after the onset of the GOE, and suggest that the current paradigm of placing the GOE at 2.33-2.32 Ga based on the last occurrence of MIF-S in South Africa should be re-evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2245
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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