Institute of Mineralogy Research Research projects
The evolution of the earliest marine habitats on Earth

The evolution of the earliest marine habitats on Earth

Led by:  Dr. Sebastian Viehmann
Year:  2021
Funding:  FWF (P-34238)
Duration:  2021-2024

This project aims to reconstruct marine environments and the geodynamical evolution of continental landmasses in the time frame between 2.9 and 3.5 billion years ago. The results provide fundamental insights into how landmasses and marine environments evolved through the Archean and improve our current understanding from the interplay of weathering and erosion processes of emerged landmasses with marine environments on Early Earth.

In particular, the results provide unique information on the evolution of local and global Archean seawater chemistry, the atmos- and hydrosphere systems, as well as the sources of elements affecting Archean seawater. Additionally, Hf-Nd isotope compositions determine the impact of elemental fluxes from emerged continents into Archean marine environments. For the first time, this project traces the Hf-Nd isotope record of oceans from 2.7 billion years back until ~3.5 billion years ago and establishes Hf-Nd isotopes in marine chemical sediments as novel geochemical proxy for weathering and erosion processes on Precambrian continents. In particular, the results pinpoint the time in Earth's history when landmasses were - for the first time - emerged and significantly affected seawater chemistry via chemical weathering.