Barite in the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation and its implications for marine carbon cycling during the largest negative carbon isotope excursion in Earth's history

Meng Cheng (程猛), Haiyang Wang, Chao Li, Genming Luo, Junhua Huang, Zhenbing She, Lidan Lei, Guang Ouyang, Zihu Zhang, Matthew S. Dodd, Thomas J. Algeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Ediacaran Period (∼635–539 Ma) witnessed the largest negative inorganic carbon isotope (δ13Ccarb) excursion in Earth's history (i.e., the Shuram Excursion), which is characterized by decoupling from the organic carbon isotope (δ13Corg) record. The cause(s) of this event remains highly debated. Here, we report a major (∼8–9-Myr-long) episode of strong barium (Ba) accumulation during the Shuram Excursion in the form of barite, as recorded in the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation (∼635–551 Ma) of South China. The inner-shelf Zhangcunping section exhibits minimal Ba enrichment, while the slope Siduping section shows maximal Ba enrichment with the intrashelf basinal Jiulongwan section in the middle. The Siduping section contains ∼5 μm-diameter, ellipsoidal barite crystals of marine origin; and the Jiulongwan section contains large (>50 μm), euhedral barite crystals and cements that are partly replaced by pyrite, pointing to a diagenetic origin with barite formation within the sulfate-methane transition zone. The barite δ34S is ∼10‰ higher than δ34S of carbonate-associated sulfate at Jiulongwan in contrast to similar values of these two components at Siduping, suggesting a limited influence of methane oxidation, if any, on the formation of Shuram Excursion at Jiulongwan. The Ce/Ce* exhibits a lateral gradient among study sections which is reverse to the Ba enrichment, supporting the hypothesis that local surface-water productivity controlled dissolved oxygen levels in the Ediacaran surface ocean. Based on these findings, we attribute the highest Ba enrichment at Siduping to oceanic upwelling which enhanced local marine productivity. Furthermore, we propose that episodic oceanic upwelling in the Ediacaran shelf regions likely transported phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to shallow waters, increasing their productivity and facilitating the oxidation of DOC, contributing to the largest negative carbon isotope excursion in Earth's history.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106485
JournalPrecambrian Research
Volume368
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

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