Mesoproterozoic surface oxygenation accompanied major sedimentary manganese deposition at 1.4 and 1.1 Ga

Sam C. Spinks, Erik A. Sperling, Robert L. Thorne, Felicity LaFountain, Alistair J. R. White, Joseph Armstrong, Martijn Woltering, Ian M. Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Manganese (Mn) oxidation in marine environments requires oxygen (O-2) or other reactive oxygen species in the water column, and widespread Mn oxide deposition in ancient sedimentary rocks has long been used as a proxy for oxidation. The oxygenation of Earth's atmosphere and oceans across the Archean-Proterozoic boundary are associated with massive Mn deposits, whereas the interval from 1.8-1.0 Ga is generally believed to be a time of low atmospheric oxygen with an apparent hiatus in sedimentary Mn deposition. Here, we report geochemical and mineralogical analyses from 1.1 Ga manganiferous marine-shelf siltstones from the Bangemall Supergroup, Western Australia, which underlie recently discovered economically significant manganese deposits. Layers bearing Mn carbonate microspheres, comparable with major global Mn deposits, reveal that intense periods of sedimentary Mn deposition occurred in the late Mesoproterozoic. Iron geochemical data suggest anoxic-ferruginous seafloor conditions at the onset of Mn deposition, followed by oxic conditions in the water column as Mn deposition persisted and eventually ceased. These data imply there was spatially widespread surface oxygenation similar to 1.1 Ga with sufficiently oxic conditions in shelf environments to oxidize marine Mn(II). Comparable large stratiform Mn carbonate deposits also occur in similar to 1.4 Ga marine siltstones hosted in underlying sedimentary units. These deposits are greater or at least commensurate in scale (tonnage) to those that followed the major oxygenation transitions from the Neoproterozoic. Such a period of sedimentary manganogenesis is inconsistent with a model of persistently low O-2 throughout the entirety of the Mesoproterozoic and provides robust evidence for dynamic redox changes in the mid to late Mesoproterozoic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-43
Number of pages16
Issue number1
Early online date27 Sep 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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