Joining 8 O’Clock Buzz host Brian Standing, in the studio, is Aaron Satkoski, assistant scientist in the UW Department of Geoscience. Todays topic is about his research, on life in ancient oceans–by which they mean over 3 Billion years ago.
Satkoski, who is first author of a new report on ocean chemistry from this remote period, says the conventional wisdom of geology has envisioned an oceanic planet, with little or no land above the waves. “Starting back in the 1960s, for various reasons people claimed there was very little continental mass, and so there wasn’t enough weathering to affect the chemistry of the ocean. But there wasn’t much real data from more than 3 billion years ago to support that.”
This sample of 3.26-billion-year-old barite shows the granular barite (gray-green areas) that was influenced by ocean water, and bladed barite (vertical black bands) that was by ocean water and water circulating below the sea floor. David Tenenbaum
Discoveries of fossil remains of bacteria from over 3 billion years ago have changed that picture, says Satkoski. “But if there was life in the ocean, you need some amount of continental weathering taking place to deliver phosphorus so the organisms can live.”