The Sciences

Scientists Find An Ancient Source of Oxygen Supporting Life

The shifting of geological faults in the subsurface of the Earth forged the oxygen, a study suggests.

By Sam WaltersAug 8, 2022 11:15 AM
Rocks and Water
(Credit: newsony/Shutterstock)

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Although oxygen is now the most abundant element in our oceans and our atmosphere, comprising about 88.8 percent and 23.1 percent of the mass of the two respectively, this wasn’t always the case. In actuality, the abundance of oxygen on Earth arose only 2.4 billion years ago thanks to the advent of photosynthesis, the process through which some of the first life forms transformed sunlight into energy. It was only coincidence, scientists say, that one of the products of this process was oxygen, which would completely transform the planet, creating the conditions for increasingly complex forms of life.

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