Oceanic Anoxic Events

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Cretaceous Ocean Anoxic Events

Most seafloor sediments today are well-oxygenated and as a result are host to communities of organisms that make a living by decomposing the detritus that falls out of the waters above. It has not always been so. During certain periods in the Earth's history, organic-rich black shale sediments were laid down. The prevalence of shales from these times is attributed to low levels of oxygen in the oceans. Low levels of oxygen excluded most organisms, with the result that organic remains accumulated untouched by scavengers or bacteria.

How might the lack of oxygen have impacted on the Earth System? You can explore one aspect of this using the nitrogen-phosphorus model.

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