94 research outputs found

    Multiple Fluxes Influencing Amazonian River Chemistry

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    The rivers flowing through the Amazon Basin are both physically and chemically heterogeneous. Through detailed geochemical analyses, this study indicates that variability is primarily controlled by substrate lithology in the source region and the erosional regime. Observations suggest that it is possible to classify the chemical composition of Amazonian rivers according to the geochemistry of the soils in their catchment regions and vice versa.;The ability of microorganisms to undergo chemical exchanges with their aqueous environment, involving both the uptake and excretion of various elements, has been overlooked as an important factor in determining the chemistry of Amazonian rivers. Silicon extracted and precipitated by diatoms indicate that the dissolved silicon levels of the Rio Negro are in part controlled by biological activity. In the Rio Solimoes, both filamentous algae and bacteria were shown to bind and accumulate significant amounts of dissolved metals. In a solute-rich river system, the metal-loaded microorganisms play an important role in the transfer of metals from the hydrosphere to the sediment. It is not difficult to imagine that algae and bacteria could effectively cleanse the water of dissolved metals and partition them into the sediments.;In the Amazon Basin, many of the rivers are characterized by their high organic content and their solute-deficiency. In the Rio Negro, major cations such as Fe, Al, and Si are significantly bound into organo-metallic complexes, contributing largely to the mobilization and transport of these metals in the river. The high organic-inorganic matter ratio of this river also seems to provide sufficient reactive sites for the adsorption of trace metals. This process may cause significant changes in the overall chemical composition of rivers.;Lastly, anthropogenic forces now influence the nutrient dynamics of the forest system. Results indicate that numerous metals are released as aerosols through the combustion of vegetation. In addition, an entire suite of metals are concentrated in the residual ash, which potentially can be dispersed into the atmosphere. Analyses of radiogenic isotopes (Sr, Pb) in rainfall suggest that these emissions may provide nuclei for the condensation of water vapor, with the net result being a high concentration of dissolved metals in the precipitation. (Abstract shortened by UMI.

    Timing the evolution of antioxidant enzymes in cyanobacteria

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    How early photosynthesizers managed oxidative stress remains relatively unresolved. Analyses of enzymes dealing with reactive oxygen species traces the evolutionary history of superoxide dismutases and finds evidence of CuZnSOD in the ancestor of all cyanobacteria, dating back to the Archaean

    No evidence for high atmospheric oxygen levels 1,400 million years ago

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    Zhang et al. (1) recently proposed atmospheric oxygen levels of ‚ąľ4% present atmospheric levels (PAL) based on modeling a paleoenvironment reconstructed from trace metal and biomarker data from the 1,400 Ma Xiamaling Formation in China. Intriguingly, this pO2 level is above the threshold oxygen requirements of basal animals and clashes with evidence for atmospheric oxygen levels <<1% PAL in the mid-Proterozoic (2). However, there are fundamental problems with the inorganic and organic geochemical work presented by Zhang et al. (1)

    Textural and geochemical features of freshwater microbialites from Laguna Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico

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    Microbialites provide some of the oldest direct evidence of life on Earth. They reached their peak during the Proterozoic and declined afterward. Their decline has been attributed to grazing and/or burrowing by metazoans, to changes in ocean chemistry, or to competition with other calcifying organisms. The freshwater microbialites at Laguna Bacalar (Mexico) provide an opportunity to better understand microbialite growth in terms of interaction between grazing organisms versus calcium carbonate precipitation. The Laguna Bacalar microbialites are described in terms of their distinct mesostructures. Stromatolites display internal lamination, attributed to the precipitation of calcite and the upward migration of cyanobacteria during periods of low sedimentation. Thrombolitic stromatolites show internal lamination in addition to internal clotting. The clotting is seen as a result of binding and/or trapping of micritic peloids by cyanobacteria and attributed to periods of high sedimentation. The carbonates in both microbialites had similar C- and O-stable‚Äďisotopic signatures, both enriched in ^(13)C relative to bivalves, suggesting photosynthetic CO_2 uptake was the trigger for carbonate precipitation. This implies that the rate of microbialite growth is largely a function of ambient carbonate saturation state, while the texture is especially dependent on accretion rates and sediment deposition on their surface. Importantly, the coexistence with grazing animals suggests no significant inhibition on microbialite growth, thereby calling into question the decline of microbialite as a result of metazoan evolution. Varying sedimentation rates are likely important in controlling the distribution of thrombolite‚Äďstromatolite packages in the geological record, given the importance of this factor at Bacalar

    Nickel partitioning in biogenic and abiogenic ferrihydrite: the influence of silica and implications for ancient environments

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    Fe(III) (oxyhydr)oxides are ubiquitous in modern soils and sediments, and their large surface area leads to scavenging of trace elements. Experimental trace element partitioning between Fe(III) (oxyhydr)oxides and aqueous solutions have been used to elucidate the geochemical composition of the Precambrian oceans based on the trace element concentrations in Precambrian banded iron formations (BIFs). However, previous partitioning experiments did not consider the potential influence of microbially-derived organic material, even though it is widely believed that bacterial phytoplankton was involved in Fe(II) oxidation and the deposition of BIF primary minerals. Therefore, the present study focuses on sorption of Ni to, and co-precipitation of Ni with, both biogenic ferrihydrite (Fe(OH)3) precipitated by the freshwater photoferrotroph Rhodobacter ferrooxidans SW2 and the marine photoferrotroph Rhodovulum iodosum, as well as chemically synthesized ferrihydrite. We considered the influence of cellular organic material, medium composition and the availability of dissolved silica. Our results show a preferential association of Ni with ferrihydrite, and not with the microbial cells or extracellular organic substances. We found that the addition of silica (2 mM) did not influence Ni partitioning but led to the encrustation of some cells with ferrihydrite and amorphous silica. The two- to threefold lower Ni/Fe ratio in biogenic as compared to abiogenic ferrihydrite is probably due to a competition between Ni and organic matter for sorption sites on the mineral surface. Additionally, the competition of ions present at high concentrations in marine medium for sorption sites led to decreased Ni sorption or co-precipitation. Based on our data we conclude that, if the Fe(III) minerals deposited in BIFs were ‚Äď at least to some extent ‚Äď biological, then the Ni concentrations in the early ocean would have been higher than previously suggested. This study shows the importance of considering the presence of microbial biomass and seawater ions in paleomarine reconstructions

    Proterozoic ocean redox and biogeochemical stasis

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    The partial pressure of oxygen in Earth‚Äôs atmosphere has increased dramatically through time, and this increase is thought to have occurred in two rapid steps at both ends of the Proterozoic Eon (‚ąľ2.5‚Äď0.543 Ga). However, the trajectory and mechanisms of Earth‚Äôs oxygenation are still poorly constrained, and little is known regarding attendant changes in ocean ventilation and seafloor redox. We have a particularly poor understanding of ocean chemistry during the mid-Proterozoic (‚ąľ1.8‚Äď0.8 Ga). Given the coupling between redox-sensitive trace element cycles and planktonic productivity, various models for mid-Proterozoic ocean chemistry imply different effects on the biogeochemical cycling of major and trace nutrients, with potential ecological constraints on emerging eukaryotic life. Here, we exploit the differing redox behavior of molybdenum and chromium to provide constraints on seafloor redox evolution by coupling a large database of sedimentary metal enrichments to a mass balance model that includes spatially variant metal burial rates. We find that the metal enrichment record implies a Proterozoic deep ocean characterized by pervasive anoxia relative to the Phanerozoic (at least ‚ąľ30‚Äď40% of modern seafloor area) but a relatively small extent of euxinic (anoxic and sulfidic) seafloor (less than ‚ąľ1‚Äď10% of modern seafloor area). Our model suggests that the oceanic Mo reservoir is extremely sensitive to perturbations in the extent of sulfidic seafloor and that the record of Mo and chromium enrichments through time is consistent with the possibility of a Mo‚ÄďN colimited marine biosphere during many periods of Earth‚Äôs history

    Authigenic iron oxide proxies for marine zinc over geological time and implications for eukaryotic metallome evolution

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    Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2012. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of John Wiley & Sons for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geobiology 11 (2013): 295-306, doi:10.1111/gbi.12036.Here we explore enrichments in paleomarine Zn as recorded by authigenic iron oxides including Precambrian iron formations, ironstones and Phanerozoic hydrothermal exhalites. This compilation of new and literature-based iron formation analyses track dissolved Zn abundances and constrain the magnitude of the marine reservoir over geological time. Overall, the iron formation record is characterized by a fairly static range in Zn/Fe ratios throughout the Precambrian, consistent with the shale record (Scott et al., 2013, Nature Geoscience, 6, 125-128). When hypothetical partitioning scenarios are applied to this record, paleomarine Zn concentrations within about an order of magnitude of modern are indicated. We couple this examination with new chemical speciation models used to interpret the iron formation record. We present two scenarios: first, under all but the most sulfidic conditions and with Zn binding organic ligand concentrations similar to modern oceans, the amount of bioavailable Zn remained relatively unchanged through time. Late proliferation of Zn in eukaryotic metallomes has previously been linked to marine Zn biolimitation, but under this scenario, the expansion in eukaryotic Zn metallomes may be better linked to biologically intrinsic evolutionary factors. In this case zinc’s geochemical and biological evolution may be decoupled, and viewed as a function of increasing need for genome regulation and diversification of Zn-binding transcription factors. In the second scenario, we consider Archean organic ligand complexation in such excess that it may render Zn bioavailability low. However, this is dependent on Zn organic ligand complexes not being bioavailable, which remains unclear. In this case, although bioavailability may be low, sphalerite precipitation is prevented, thereby maintaining a constant Zn inventory throughout both ferruginous and euxinic conditions. These results provide new perspectives and constraints 50 on potential couplings between the trajectory of biological and marine geochemical coevolution.This work was supported by a NSERC Discovery Grant to KOK, a NSERC PDF to SVL, a NSERC CGSM to LJR, and an NSF-EAR-PDF to NJP. MAS acknowledges support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Grant #2724. This work was also supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to A.K. (KA 1736/4-1 and 12-1)

    Chromium evidence for protracted oxygenation during the Paleoproterozoic

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    Accepted manuscript version, licensed CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. It has commonly been proposed that the development of complex life is tied to increases in atmospheric oxygenation. However, there is a conspicuous gap in time between the oxygenation of the atmosphere 2.4 billion years ago (Ga) and the first widely-accepted fossil evidence for complex eukaryotic cells . At present the gap could either represent poor sampling, poor preservation, and/or difficulties in recognizing early eukaryote fossils, or it could be real and the evolution of complex cells was delayed due to relatively low and/or variable O2 levels in the Paleoproterozoic. To assess the extent and stability of Paleoproterozoic O2 levels, we measured chromium-based oxygen proxies in a core from the Onega Basin (NW-Russia), deposited billion years ago‚ÄĒa few hundred million years prior to the oldest definitive fossil evidence for eukaryotes. Fractionated chromium isotopes are documented throughout the section (max. ‚Äį ), suggesting a long interval (possibly >100 million years) during which oxygen levels were higher and more stable than in the billion years before or after. This suggests that, if it is the case that complex cells did not evolve until after 1.7 Ga, then this delay was not due to O2-limitation. Instead, it could reflect other limiting factors‚ÄĒecological or environmental‚ÄĒor could indicate that it simply takes a long time‚ÄĒmore than the tens to >100 million years recorded in Onega Basin sediments‚ÄĒfor such biological innovations to evolve

    Trace element perspective into the ca. 2.1-billion-year-old shallow-marine microbial mats from the Francevillian Group, Gabon

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    The sedimentary fabrics of Precambrian mat-related structures (MRS) represent some of the oldest convincing evidence for early life on Earth. The ca. 2.1 billion-year (Ga) old MRS in the FB2 Member of the Francevillian basin in Gabon has received considerable attention not only because they contain remnants of microbial mats that colonized large areas in oxygenated, shallow-marine settings, but they also contain evidence for ancient multicellular organisms that thrived on these microbial mats using them as a food source. Despite these insights, what remains lacking is a full characterization of the geochemical composition of the MRS to test whether the bulk composition of fossilized MRS is distinct from the host sediments (sandstones and shales). Here, we show that the trace element (TE) content of microbial textures belonging to pyritized MRS, poorly pyritized MRS, and ‚Äúelephant-skin‚ÄĚ textures (EST) is highly variable and differs from that of the host sediments. The poorly pyritized MRS contain a unique matrix with embedded Ti- and Zr-rich minerals and syngenetically enriched in TE. The EST, some of which are developed along the same stratigraphic horizon as the poorly pyritized MRS, display a distinct distribution of TE-bearing heavy minerals, suggesting a local difference in physical conditions during sedimentation. Similarly, high chalcophile-element (CE) content in pyritized MRS relative to the host sediments of the FB2 Member further points to local bacterially influenced enrichments with high rates of microbial sulfate reduction during early diagenesis. The geochemical relationship between the MRS and the Francevillian sediments (e.g., FB, FC, and FD formations) indicates that specific biological pathways for CE enrichments (i.e., microbially controlled accumulation) are not apparent. Our findings highlight bulk-rock TE distinction between the 2.1-billion-year-old MRS and their host sediments, but also indicate that environmental conditions, such as hydrodynamic regime and water-column redox chemistry, may simply overwhelm any potential biological signal. Our data suggest that the microbial impact may have only passively influenced TE enrichment in the studied sediments, implying that TE concentrations in MRS are a poor biosignature. Importantly, this work indicates that bulk TE geochemistry does not unveil specific microbiological processes in the rock record, which is consistent with the observed patterns in modern analogues
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