Anthony Watts reports at Watts Up With That,
A study now online in the February issue of Earth and Planetary Science Letters links the rise in oxygen to a rapid increase in the burial of sediment containing large amounts of carbon-rich organic matter. The key, says study co-author Shanan Peters, a professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is to recognize that sediment storage blocks the oxidation of carbon.
Without burial, this oxidation reaction causes dead plant material on Earth’s surface to burn. That causes the carbon it contains, which originated in the atmosphere, to bond with oxygen to form carbon dioxide. And for oxygen to build up in our atmosphere, plant organic matter must be protected from oxidation.
And that’s exactly what happens when organic matter — the raw material of coal, oil and natural gas — is buried through geologic processes.
…“Burying the sediments that became fossil fuels was the key to advanced animal life on Earth,”
Read more here.