Tracking euxinia in the ancient ocean: A multiproxy perspective and proterozoic case study

Timothy W. Lyons, Ariel Anbar, Silke Severmann, Clint Scott, Benjamin C. Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

298 Scopus citations


The evolution and extinction of life are tied intimately to the oxygen state of the ocean, and particularly to the presence of anoxic and H 2S-containing (euxinic) water on a global scale. Anoxia and euxinia were more common in the past, relative to today's <0.5% euxinic seafioor. We are able to constrain the distributions of these conditions through a combination of indirect numerical modeling methods and more direct geochemical proxies, with particular emphasis on Fe-S-Mo analysis of flne-grained siliciclastic rocks for the latter. Establishing the spatiotemporal pattern of oceanic redox is more difficult with very old rocks because of the limited availability of well-dated, well-preserved materials that span shallow and deep environments across time lines. Despite these difficulties, the multiple approaches synthesized in our case study point to global oxygen-deficiency in the deep ocean and perhaps euxinia during most, if not all, of the Proterozoic and likely extending into the early Paleozoic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)507-534
Number of pages28
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Anoxia
  • Fe and Mo isotopes
  • Fe-S-Mo paleoredox proxies
  • Ocean chemistry
  • Proterozoic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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