Uranium Isotope Evidence for Temporary Ocean Oxygenation in the Aftermath of the Sturtian Snowball Earth
Lau, Kimberly V.
Payne, Jonathan L.
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CitationLau, Kimberly V., Francis A. Macdonald, Kate Maher, and Jonathan L. Payne. 2017. Uranium Isotope Evidence for Temporary Ocean Oxygenation in the Aftermath of the Sturtian Snowball Earth. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 458: 282-292.
AbstractThe appearance and radiation of animals are commonly attributed to Neoproterozoic oceanic oxygenation, yet independent geochemical evidence for such an event remains equivocal. Strata deposited between the Sturtian and Marinoan Snowball Earth glaciations (660 to 640 Ma) contain the earliest animal biomarkers and possible body fossils. To quantify the extent of seafloor oxygenation during this critical interval, we present uranium isotope ratios (238U/235U denoted as ) from limestone of the Taishir Formation in Mongolia through two stratigraphic sections that are separated by ∼75 km within the same depositional basin. Above the Sturtian glacial deposits, through ∼150 m of stratigraphy, compositions have a mean value of −0.47‰. This interval is followed by a ∼0.3‰ decrease in , coincident with the Taishir negative carbon isotope excursion. Thereafter, values remain relatively low until the erosional unconformity at the base of the Marinoan glacial deposits. Using a box model, we show that the best explanation for the higher values of the post-Sturtian limestones is extensive—but temporary—oxygenation of the seafloor, and is inconsistent with a scenario involving only increased delivery of uranium to the oceans due to post-Snowball weathering. The decline in in overlying strata, coincident with the Taishir negative excursion, indicates a subsequent decrease in seafloor oxygenation. The U isotopic data, combined with modeling results, challenge the notion of a simple, unidirectional oxygenation of Neoproterozoic oceans.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41291501
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