Would high iron concentrations prevent life on Mars?

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Offline thedoc

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John Michael Williams  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
If high levels of iron currently prevent life, how can one assume that it did not prevent life in the past, when the iron was dissolved in water?

John Michael Williams

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 30/07/2013 08:30:02 by _system »

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Offline evan_au

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Re: Would high iron concentrations prevent life on Mars?
« Reply #1 on: 29/07/2013 23:16:58 »
It is thought that the large iron ore deposits in Western Australia were formed by biological processes, but under conditions very different from Earth today.

One theory suggests that photosynthesizing cyanobacteria produced oxygen which combined with the iron ions dissolved in the water, producing large deposits of insoluble iron oxides.

It is thought that the atmosphere contained no free oxygen, and so ironically, high levels of oxygen dissolved in the water would have been quite dangerous to the biology of the time, while high levels of iron were not. Once the iron had been depleted in the oceans, oxygen levels would have started to increase in the water and atmosphere, leading to the Oxygen Crisis.