Magnetic Field Fluctuations Linked to Dawn of Complex Life on Earth

Magnetic Field Fluctuations Linked to Dawn of Complex Life on Earth

During a critical period in Earth's history, between 591 and 565 million years ago, a significant weakening of the Earth's magnetic field may have influenced the increase in atmospheric and oceanic oxygen levels, a factor that potentially supported the emergence and evolution of complex life. This connection is outlined in a study led by John Tarduno and colleagues, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment.

The study involved analyzing the magnetic properties of 21 plagioclase crystals from a rock formation in Brazil. These crystals, which were formed during the aforementioned period, showed that the Earth's magnetic field was up to 30 times weaker than it is today. The researchers propose that this weakening of the magnetic field could have allowed more hydrogen to escape into space, thereby increasing the percentage of oxygen on Earth.

This period of a weakened magnetic field aligns with the rise of the Ediacaran fauna, the earliest known complex multicellular animals, and the substantial diversification of life forms. The research team estimated that this state of an ultra-low magnetic field persisted for at least 26 million years, corresponding with the timing of these evolutionary developments. The findings not only shed light on the conditions that may have contributed to the proliferation of early complex organisms but also raise considerations about the potential for life in relation to magnetic fields on other planets.


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