Earth’s ocean was stagnant and stinking for a billion years — here’s why that’s exciting


X Scalper

Geologists have dubbed Earth’s middle age the “boring billion”. Occurring some 1,800 to 800 million years ago, it has long been considered a period when little happened on Earth in terms of biological evolution, climate, or the chemistry of the oceans and atmosphere. But emerging evidence now suggests that the “boring billion” may have been far more dynamic than that.

Our planet has been shaped by many monumental events. From the Cambrian explosion around 540 million years ago, when most animal forms appeared, to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, the dramatic course of biological evolution is well documented by the fossil record. Similarly, from the glaciations of the most recent ice age, to much earlier “snowball Earth” periods, when the entire planet may have frozen over for millions of years, climate change has left a clear imprint on the geological record.

But then we come to the “boring billion”, where the rocks appear to give us startling evidence for, well, not much really.