The first great mountain ranges on the planet, similar to the Himalayas today, emerged around 550 million years ago, coinciding with the first fossil records of animals. Could these two processes have influenced each other?
This hypothesis will be tested through the chemical analysis of rocks deposited on the ocean floor at this time, searching for signs of elements that acted as nutrients for primitive life. These nutrients were derived from the erosion of the mountains and delivered to the sea. Additionally, the process of mountain erosion consumes carbon dioxide, the main cause of the greenhouse effect, leading to a milder climate and greater oxygenation of water, which also contributes to the proliferation of life.
Dating the age of the rocks that make up these ancient mountain ranges will provide insights into the amount and rates of nutrient and oxygen delivery to marine waters at this time and how they influenced the emergence of animal life.