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For what will probably be my last blogging post (my train leaves Davos this afternoon!), I’d love to throw another question out there to the group.
I spent this morning at the Oxygen over Earth History session, which included some great presentations by some top names in the field – Lyons, Poulton, Kirschvink, and Konhauser, just to name a few.
But as someone with a background in mathematics, I can’t help but wonder about the interpretation of proxies such as Mo, Fe, Si, Os and S quantities and isotopes.  As David Raup has shown, as well as has been shown by the work of Micheal Foote, the geologic record is incredibly biased.  Most of the geochemical work that has been done on the Proterozoic has been influenced by two things: first, the sparsity of the record and, second, the draw of big-name sections in important time intervals.
Is it possible that our entire dataset for the geochemistry of the Proterozoic is biased?  That preferential preservation has limited our view of the chemistry of Proterozoic oceans?  I don’t know myself, but I would like to quote the metaphor Darwin used in “On the Origin of Species”, which he attributed to Lyell:
“… I look at the natural geological record, as a history of the world imperfectly kept, and written in a changing dialect; of this history we possess the last volume alone, relating only two or three countries.  Of this volume, only here and there a short chapter has been preserved; and of each page, only here and there a few lines.  Each word of the slowly-changing language, in which the history is supposed to be written, being more less different in the interrupted succession of chapters…”

I’d also just like to say I’ve really enjoyed blogging at Goldschmidt; it’s been fun thinking about the science of the day and trying to say a few words about it.  I hope I’ve done an okay job, and I know that the other  bloggers have written some great stuff.   See you all at the next Goldschmidt! – Chris

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