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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Precambrian Research, Volume 378, p.106760 (2022)






black shale, Microbial carbonate, Molybdenum isotopes, neoproterozoic, Ocean oxygenation, Palaeoredox


<p>This study addresses marine palaeoredox conditions of the mid-Neoproterozoic by analysing the Mo isotope, trace element, and U-Th-Pb isotope compositions of shallow water microbial carbonate, deep water pelagic carbonate, and shale from the Stone Knife Formation (SKF) in NW Canada. The U-Th-Pb isotope SKF systematics of reef microbialite carbonates, and the moderately expressed negative Ce anomalies are consistent with the presence of dissolved O2 in the surface waters. Thirteen of 14 analysed samples yield a depositional 206Pb/238U regression age of 0.850&nbsp;±&nbsp;0.028&nbsp;Ga. The Mo isotope data (δ98Mo) are distinct for the microbial and pelagic carbonates and the deeper water shales, with the isotopically heaviest black shales 0.4 ‰ lighter than the heaviest carbonate. The bulk digestion carbonate δ98Mo data scatter widely, ranging up to 1.64 ‰, and are not reproducible between repeat digestions. The spread in shallow-water carbonate δ98Mo cannot be attributed to a single origin (e.g., admixture of silicate-hosted Mo) and probably reflects a combination of factors, including the complex pathway of Mo into microbial carbonates. Regardless, we propose a minimum δ98Mo of 1.64 ‰ for the 0.85&nbsp;Ga ocean, similar to other Neo- and Mesoproterozoic estimates from studies of proxies other than black shale. Our new black shale δ98Mo data agree with most previous results from 1.8 to 0.7&nbsp;Ga shales. If interpreted as reflecting seawater, this would mean a minimum oceanic δ98Mo composition of only 1.29 ‰, implying a limited oxic reservoir compared to the modern Mo budget in agreement with previous studies. This study’s results suggest that the discrepancy could also be explained by a systematic offset between δ98Mo compositions of black shales and the overlying water columns, regardless of depositional environment, akin to the relative depth distribution of δ98Mo in modern euxinic water columns such as the Black Sea. If valid, an implied heavier seawater δ98Mo throughout the Proterozoic would indicate that the magnitude of the Mo oxic sink remained relatively stable throughout the Proterozoic, shifting the apparent expansion of oxygen towards the younger boundary of the interpreted onset of the NOE (ca. 1.0–0.54&nbsp;Ga).</p>