Heterogeneous sulfide reoxidation buffered oxygen release in the Ediacaran Shuram ocean

Wei Shi, Benjamin J.W. Mills, Thomas J. Algeo, Simon W. Poulton, Robert J. Newton, Matthew S. Dodd, Zihu Zhang, Lei Zheng, Tianchen He, Mingcai Hou, Chao Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ediacaran (∼635–539 Ma) carbonate rocks record the largest negative carbonate-carbon isotope excursion in Earth history, termed the Shuram Excursion (SE). This event has been attributed to anaerobic oxidation of dissolved organic carbon as a result of enhanced weathering inputs of sulfate to the ocean during the amalgamation of Gondwana. However, the effect of carbon–sulfur cycle interplay on the net redox state of the ocean–atmosphere system remains unclear, impeding our understanding of the co-evolution of life and the environment during the Ediacaran. Here, we generate high-resolution records of paired sulfate sulfur and oxygen isotopes, in addition to phosphorus concentrations, for the SE interval in South Australia (Parachilna Gorge) and South China (Jiulongwan and Xiang’erwan sections, Three Gorges), and we evaluate these data in the context of COPSE biogeochemical model simulations to assess net long-term redox changes. Our results support widespread H2S reoxidation in shelf areas during the SE, which would have buffered the net release of oxygen sourced from the burial of organic carbon and pyrite. Varying degrees of H2S reoxidation on different cratons likely contributed significantly to high spatial heterogeneity in both local oceanic redox state and nutrient availability, which characterized local oxygen-deficient conditions in an overall oxygenated SE shelf ocean, and likely affected the distribution of the Ediacaran Biota. Our study highlights the important role of H2S reoxidation in the coevolution of marine redox conditions and complex life during the critical Ediacaran period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-164
Number of pages16
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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