31 research outputs found

    Laboratory Simulation of an Iron(II)-rich Precambrian Marine Upwelling System to Explore the Growth of Photosynthetic Bacteria

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    A conventional concept for the deposition of some Precambrian Banded Iron Formations (BIF) proceeds on the assumption that ferrous iron [Fe(II)] upwelling from hydrothermal sources in the Precambrian ocean was oxidized by molecular oxygen [O2] produced by cyanobacteria. The oldest BIFs, deposited prior to the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) at about 2.4 billion years (Gy) ago, could have formed by direct oxidation of Fe(II) by anoxygenic photoferrotrophs under anoxic conditions. As a method for testing the geochemical and mineralogical patterns that develop under different biological scenarios, we designed a 40 cm long vertical flow-through column to simulate an anoxic Fe(II)-rich marine upwelling system representative of an ancient ocean on a lab scale. The cylinder was packed with a porous glass bead matrix to stabilize the geochemical gradients, and liquid samples for iron quantification could be taken throughout the water column. Dissolved oxygen was detected non-invasively via optodes from the outside. Results from biotic experiments that involved upwelling fluxes of Fe(II) from the bottom, a distinct light gradient from top, and cyanobacteria present in the water column, show clear evidence for the formation of Fe(III) mineral precipitates and development of a chemocline between Fe(II) and O2. This column allows us to test hypotheses for the formation of the BIFs by culturing cyanobacteria (and in the future photoferrotrophs) under simulated marine Precambrian conditions. Furthermore we hypothesize that our column concept allows for the simulation of various chemical and physical environments — including shallow marine or lacustrine sediments

    Depth-dependent δ13 C trends in platform and slope settings of the Campbellrand-Malmani carbonate platform and possible implications for Early Earth oxygenation

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    Highlights • Carbon cycle of Neoarchean carbonate platform and potential oxygen oasis. • Carbon isotopes reveal a shift to aerobic biosphere and increasing oxidation state. • Rare earth element patterns reveal decrease in open ocean water influx. • Rimmed margin architecture was crucial for evolution of aerobic ecosystems. Abstract The evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis is widely seen as the major biological factor for the profound shift from reducing to slightly oxidizing conditions in Earth’s atmosphere during the Archean-Proterozoic transition period. The delay from the first biogenic production of oxygen and the permanent oxidation of Earth’s atmosphere during the early Paleoproteorozoic Great Oxidation Event (GOE) indicates that significant environmental modifications were necessary for an effective accumulation of metabolically produced oxygen. Here we report a distinct temporal shift to heavier carbon isotope signatures in lagoonal and intertidal carbonates (δ13Ccarb from -1.6 to +0.2 ‰, relative to VPDB) and organic matter (δ13Corg from about -40 to -25 ‰, relative to VPDB) from the 2.58–2.50 Gy old shallow–marine Campbellrand-Malmani carbonate platform (South Africa). This indicates an increase in the burial rate of organic matter caused by enhanced primary production as well as a change from an anaerobic to an aerobic ecosystem. Trace element data indicate limited influx of reducing species from deep open ocean water into the platform and an increased supply of nutrients from the continent, both supporting primary production and an increasing oxidation state of the platform interior. These restricted conditions allowed that the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pool in the platform interior developed differently than the open ocean. This is supported by coeval carbonates from the marginal slope setting, which had a higher interaction with open ocean water and do not record a comparable shift in δ13Ccarb throughout the sequence. We propose that the emergence of stable shallow-water carbonate platforms in the Neoarchean provided ideal conditions for the evolution of early aerobic ecosystems, which finally led to the full oxidation of Earth’s atmosphere during the GOE

    Pervasively anoxic surface conditions at the onset of the Great Oxidation Event: new multi-proxy constraints from the Cooper Lake paleosol

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    Oceanic element inventories derived from marine sedimentary rocks place important constraints on oxidative continental weathering in deep time, but there remains a scarcity in complementary observations directly from continental sedimentary reservoirs. This study focuses on better defining continental weathering conditions near the Archean-Proterozoic boundary through the multi-proxy (major and ultra-trace element, Fe and Cr stable isotopes, μ-XRF elemental mapping, and detrital zircon U-Pb geochronology) investigation of the ca. 2.45 billion year old (giga annum, Ga) Cooper Lake paleosol (saprolith), developed on a sediment-hosted mafic dike within the Huronian Supergroup (Ontario, Canada). Throughout the variably altered Cooper Lake saprolith, ratios of immobile elements (Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf, Th, Al, Ti) are constant, indicating a uniform pre-alteration dike composition, lack of extreme pH weathering conditions, and no major influence from ligand-rich fluids during weathering or burial metasomatism/metamorphism. The loss of Mg, Fe, Na, Sr, and Li, a signature of albite and ferromagnesian silicate weathering, increases towards the top of the preserved profile (unconformity) and dike margins. Coupled bulk rock behaviour of Fe-Mg-Mn and co-localization of Fe- Mn in clay minerals (predominantly chlorite) indicates these elements were solubilized primarily in their divalent state without Fe/Mn-oxide formation. A lack of a Ce anomaly and immobility of Mo, V, and Cr further support pervasively anoxic weathering conditions. Subtle U enrichment is the only geochemical evidence, if primary, that could be consistent with oxidative element mobilization. The leaching of ferromagnesian silicates was accompanied by variable mobility and depletion of transition metals with a relative depletion order of Fe≈Mg≈Zn\u3eNi\u3eCo\u3eCu (Cu being significantly influenced by secondary sulfide formation). Mild enrichment of heavy Fe isotopes (δ56/54Fe from 0.169 to 0.492 ‰) correlating with Fe depletion in the saprolith indicates loss of isotopically light aqueous Fe(II). Minor REE+Y fractionation with increasing alteration intensity, including a decreasing Eu anomaly and Y/Ho ratio, is attributed to albite breakdown and preferential scavenging of HREE\u3eY by clay minerals, respectively. Younger metasomatism resulted in the addition of several elements (K, Rb, Cs, Be, Tl, Ba, Sn, In, W), partly or wholly obscuring their earlier paleo-weathering trends. The behavior of Cr at Cooper Lake can help test previous hypotheses of an enhanced, low pH-driven continental weathering flux of Cr(III) to marine reservoirs between ca. 2.48-2.32 Ga and the utility of the stable Cr isotope proxy of Mn-oxide induced Cr(III) oxidation. Synchrotron μ- XRF maps and invariant Cr/Nb ratios reveal complete immobility of Cr despite its distribution amongst both clay-rich groundmass and Fe-Ti oxides. Assuming a pH-dependent, continental source of Cr(III) to marine basins, the Cr immobility at Cooper Lake indicates either that signatures of acidic surface waters were localized to uppermost and typically unpreserved regolith horizons or were geographically restricted to acid-generating point sources. However, in given detrital pyrite preservation in fluvial sequences overlying the paleosol, we propose that the oxidative sulphide corrosion required to drive surface pH(δ53/52Cr: -0.321 ± 0.038 ‰, 2sd, n=34) that cannot be linked to Cr(III) oxidation and is instead interpreted to have a magmatic origin. The combined chemical signatures and continued preservation of detrital pyrite/uraninite indicate low atmospheric O2 during weathering at ca. 2.45 Ga preserved in the rift-related sedimentary rocks of the Lower Huronian. The aqueous flux from the reduced weathering of mafic rocks was characterized by a greater abundance of transition metals (Fe, Mn, Zn, Co, Ni) with isotopically light Fe(II), as well as higher Eu/Eu* and Y/Ho. In most models of Precambrian ocean element inventories, hydrothermal fluids are viewed as the main supplier of several metals (e.g., Fe, Zn), although the results herein suggest that a riverine metal supply may have been substantial and that using Eu-excess as a strict proxy for hydrothermal flux may be misleading in near-shore marine sedimentary environments