Late Precambrian oxygenation; inception of the clay mineral factory

Martin Kennedy*, Mary Droser, Lawrence M. Mayer, David Pevear, David Mrofka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

235 Citations (Scopus)


An enigmatic stepwise increase in oxygen in the late Precambrian is widely considered a prerequisite for the expansion of animal life. Accumulation of oxygen requires organic matter burial in sediments, which is largely controlled by the sheltering or preservational effects of detrital clay minerals in modern marine continental margin depocenters. Here, we show mineralogical and geochemical evidence for an increase in clay mineral deposition in the Neoproterozoic that immediately predated the first metazoans. Today most clay minerals originate in biologically active soils, so initial expansion of a primitive land biota would greatly enhance production of pedogenic clay minerals (the "clay mineral factory"), leading to increased marine burial of organic carbon via mineral surface preservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1446-1449
Number of pages4
Issue number5766
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


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