Until recently, most earth scientists held that the seas have remained chemically constant over hundreds of millions of years. But a new analysis of ancient seawater has confirmed what some scientists began to suspect several years ago: During the last half-billion years or so, the oceans have fluctuated between varying chemistries.
The result could explain why some ancient organisms flourished in the oceans at certain times and not others, comments Steven M. Stanley of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
In the Nov. 2 Science, Tim K. Lowenstein of the State University of New York in Binghamton and his colleagues report that the shifts in ocean chemistry correlate with rates of movements in Earth's massive tectonic plates. During periods of rapid versus slow seafloor sprea