Sean Crowe: Life in Earth's Archean oceans was starved for sulfate

November 19, 2014

Sean Crowe published a remarkable paper in Science on Nov 7th showing for the first time that Earth's early oceans were starved of sulfate. Using an elegant combination of novel mass spectrometric techniques on samples from the floor of Lake Matano, Indonesia and modeling studies Crowe and coauthors find that sulfate levels were below 0.01% of their concentrations in modern seawater. Critically, at such low concentrations Crowe argues that "...sulfate would have been poorly mixed and short-lived in the oceans and this sulfate scarcity would have shaped the nature, activity and evolution of early life on Earth". Sean Crowe's paper in Science Yuichiro Ueno's perspective