Earth and Planetary Sciences News

Rare sulfur isotopes providing a clue to decode Earth's early atmosphere

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April 01, 2016

UV-absorption spectra of different isotopic species of the SO2 molecule. Each isotopic species shows shifted absorption band as well as different cross-sections. The difference between the isotopic species results in different photo-dissociation rates, thus creating the isotopic anomalies.

UV-absorption spectra of different isotopic species of the SO2 molecule. Each isotopic species shows shifted absorption band as well as different cross-sections. The difference between the isotopic species results in different photo-dissociation rates, thus creating the isotopic anomalies.

Yuichiro Ueno and co-workers have examined the UV absorption spectra of sulfur dioxide isotopologues, including all four stable sulfur isotopes, for the first time. By analyzing isotopic anomalies recorded in ancient sediments older than 2.5 billion years ago, their data gives insight into details of atmospheric chemistry on the early Earth.

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