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GEOLOGY

Excerpts from the  May 27th, 2017 issue

The origin of contractional structures in extensional gneiss domes: COMMENT


The origin of contractional structures in extensional gneiss domes: REPLY


In Memory of Bennie Troxel


Warming and increased aridity during the earliest Triassic in the Karoo Basin, South Africa

The Permian-Triassic (P-T) mass extinction is the largest extinction event of the Phanerozoic and has been causally related to eruption of the Siberian Traps (Siberia, Russia) through climatic and ecological effects of volcanically forced greenhouse gas emissions. Given anthropogenic changes to the atmosphere, documenting details of links between greenhouse warming and catastrophic biological consequences has significance beyond better understanding of the P-T boundary. Earliest Triassic warming is supported by modeling and isotopic studies; however, the empirical data are limited. In this paper we show that 18O values of phosphate in therapsid tusks from the interior of Pangea (paleolatitude 60°S) were relatively constant through the latest Permian but increased by ~2 during the earliest Triassic. Over the same interval, 18O values of carbonate soil nodules increased by ~5. The increases in both measurements and the disproportionately large shift among nodules indicate that the interior of Pangea warmed and became markedly more arid immediately after the P-T boundary.


The rise and fall of stromatolites in shallow marine environments

Stromatolites are abundant in shallow marine sediments deposited before the evolution of animals, but in the modern ocean they are restricted to locations where the activity of animals is limited. Overall decline in the abundance of stromatolites has, therefore, been attributed to the evolution of substrate-modifying metazoans, with Phanerozoic stromatolite resurgences attributed to the aftermaths of mass extinctions. Here we use a comprehensive stratigraphic database, the published literature, and a machine reading system to show that the rock record–normalized occurrence of stromatolites in marine environments in North America exhibits three phases: an initial Paleoproterozoic (ca. 2500 Ma) increase, a sustained interval of dominance during the Proterozoic (2500–800 Ma), and a late Neoproterozoic (700–541 Ma) decline to lower mean prevalence during the Phanerozoic (541–0 Ma). Stromatolites continued to exhibit large changes in prevalence after the evolution of metazoans, and they transiently achieved Proterozoic-like prevalence during the Paleozoic. The aftermaths of major mass extinctions are not well correlated with stromatolite resurgence. Instead, stromatolite occurrence is well predicted by the prevalence of dolomite, a shift in carbonate mineralogy that is sensitive to changes in water-column and pore-water chemistry occurring during continent-scale marine transgressive-regressive cycles.


A 65 k.y. time series from sediment-hosted glasses reveals rapid transitions in ocean ridge magmas

Studies of ocean ridge magmatism have been hampered by the difficulty in constructing time-series data over more than a few thousand years. Sediment rapidly covers newly formed ocean crust, and older rocks, even when recovered from fault scarps, cannot be dated accurately. Ridge eruptions, however, disperse pyroclastic glass over distances as far as 5 km, and these glasses have been shown to persist for thousands of years in on-ridge sediment push cores. Here we present data on such glasses from a piston core that impacted basement in much older (600 ka) sediment. The age of deposition was determined using established stratigraphic methods to date the host sediment, yielding an average sample resolution of a few thousand years and a continuous 65 k.y. time series. The new time-series data show systematic temporal variations in magma compositions related to a change to the dynamics of crustal storage, which led to greater extents of pre-eruptive differentiation. Shortly thereafter was a small but discernable shift toward more enriched primary melt compositions. These events coincide with the onset of enhanced crustal production, previously identified using seismic data and interpreted to reflect the capture of a hotspot by the ridge. These results show the long-term preservation of pyroclastic glasses and suggest that the construction of high-resolution volcanic stratigraphy over a million years or more may be possible at ocean ridges, using multiple piston cores that impact basement. Sediment-hosted glasses have the potential to transform ocean ridges from the volcanic setting with the worst time-series data to that with the best.


Synconvergent exhumation of metamorphic core complexes in the northern North American Cordillera

Continental metamorphic core complexes of the northern North American Cordillera were exhumed during the early Paleogene while the Farallon–North American plate convergence rate remained high. Such convergent boundary conditions can excite localized mid-crustal exhumation in numerical simulations of collisions of softer accreted terranes with a rigid, irregular craton margin. Resulting simulated temperature-time (T-t) paths match T-t paths interpreted from observed footwall exposures in several core complexes of the northern North American Cordillera, including variability of maximum temperatures, duration of exhumation, and exhumation velocities among individual complexes.


The fate of sediment, wood, and organic carbon eroded during an extreme flood, Colorado Front Range, USA

Identifying and quantifying the dominant processes of erosion and tracking the fate of sediment, wood, and carbon eroded during floods is important for understanding channel response to floods, downstream sediment and carbon loading, and the influence of extreme events on landscapes and the terrestrial carbon cycle. We quantify sediment, wood, and organic carbon (OC) from source to local sink following an extreme flood in the tectonically quiescent, semiarid Colorado (USA) Front Range. Erosion of >500,000 m3 or as much as ~115 yr of weathering products occurred through landsliding and channel erosion during September 2013 flooding. More than half of the eroded sediment was deposited at the inlet and delta of a water supply reservoir, resulting in the equivalent of 100 yr of reservoir sedimentation and 2% loss in water storage capacity. The flood discharged 28 Mg C/km2, producing an event OC flux equivalent to humid, tectonically active areas. Post-flood remobilization resulted in a further ~100 yr of reservoir sedimentation plus export of an additional 1.3 Mg C/km2 of wood, demonstrating the ongoing impact of the flood on reservoir capacity and carbon cycling. Pronounced channel widening during the flood created accommodation space for 40% of flood sediment and storage of wood and eroded carbon. We conclude that confined channels, normally dismissed as transport reaches, can store and export substantial amounts of flood constituents.


Glendonites track methane seepage in Mesozoic polar seas

During the Phanerozoic, Earth has experienced a number of transient global warming events associated with major carbon cycle perturbations. Paradoxically, many of these extreme greenhouse episodes are preceded or followed by cold climate, perhaps even glacial conditions, as inferred from the occurrence of glendonites in high latitudes. Glendonites are pseudomorphs of ikaite (CaCO3·6H2O), a hydrated carbonate mineral increasingly stable at low temperatures. Here, we show that methane seepage and oxidation provide an overriding control on Mesozoic glendonite formation (i.e., ikaite fossilization). Geochemical and petrological analyses of 33 Early Jurassic to Early Cretaceous glendonites from five sections in Siberia (Russia) reveal that most of their infilling carbonate phases are reminiscent of methane-derived authigenic carbonates. Bulk glendonites and surrounding sediments exhibit exceptionally high and low carbon isotope values (+20 to –45 VPDB [Vienna Peedee belemnite]), typical for carbon sources linked to methane generation and oxidation. Gas inclusion data confirm the presence of methane and longer-chain hydrocarbon gases, suggesting a thermogenic source for the methane. Glendonite-bearing layers can be traced for hundreds of kilometers, suggesting widespread trapping of methane in the sub-seafloor during the Jurassic. As such, glendonites constitute an unexplored archive for detecting past episodes of methane release and oxidation in polar settings.


A common origin of carbonatite magmas

The more than 500 fossil Ca-carbonatite occurrences on Earth are at odds with the only active East African Rift carbonatite volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai (Tanzania), which produces Na-carbonatite magmas. The volcano’s recent major explosive eruptions yielded a mix of nephelinitic and carbonatite melts, supporting the hypothesis that carbonatites and spatially associated peralkaline silicate lavas are related through liquid immiscibility. Nevertheless, previous eruption temperatures of Na-carbonatites were 490–595 °C, which is 250–450 °C lower than for any suitable conjugate silicate liquid. This study demonstrates experimentally that moderately alkaline Ca-carbonatite melts evolve to Na-carbonatites through crystal fractionation. The thermal barrier of the synthetic Na-Ca-carbonate system, held to preclude an evolution from Ca-carbonatites to Na-carbonatites, vanishes in the natural system, where continuous fractionation of calcite + apatite leads to Na-carbonatites, as observed at Oldoinyo Lengai. Furthermore, saturating the Na-carbonatite with minerals present in possible conjugate nephelinites yields a parent carbonatite with total alkali contents of 8–9 wt%, i.e., concentrations that are realistic for immiscible separation from nephelinitic liquids at 1000–1050 °C. Modeling the liquid line of descent along the calcite surface requires a total fractionation of ~48% calcite, ~12% apatite, and ~2 wt% clinopyroxene. SiO2 solubility only increases from 0.2 to 2.9 wt% at 750–1200 °C, leaving little leeway for crystallization of silicates. The experimental results suggest a moderately alkaline parent to the Oldoinyo Lengai carbonatites and therefore a common origin for carbonatites related to alkaline magmatism.


Modification of river meandering by tropical deforestation

Tropical forests are the only forest biome to have experienced increased rates of forest loss during the past decade because of global demands for food and biofuels. The implications of such extensive forest clearing on the dynamics of tropical river systems remain relatively unknown, despite significant progress in our understanding of the role of trees in riverbank stability. Here, we document rates of deforestation and corresponding average annual rates of riverbank erosion along the freely meandering Kinabatangan River in Sabah, Malaysia, from Landsat satellite imagery spanning A.D. 1989–2014. We estimate that deforestation removed over half of the river’s floodplain forest and up to 30% of its riparian cover, which increased rates of riverbank erosion by >23% within our study reaches. Further, the correlation between the magnitude of planform curvature and rates of riverbank erosion only became strongly positive and significant following deforestation, suggesting an important role of forests in the evolution of meandering rivers, even when riverbank heights exceed the depth of root penetration.


Cascadia subduction tremor muted by crustal faults

Deep, episodic slow slip on the Cascadia subduction megathrust of western North America is accompanied by low-frequency tremor in a zone of high fluid pressure between 30 and 40 km depth. Tremor density (tremor epicenters per square kilometer) varies along strike, and lower tremor density statistically correlates with upper plate faults that accommodate northward motion and rotation of forearc blocks. Upper plate earthquakes occur to 35 km depth beneath the faults. We suggest that the faults extend to the overpressured megathrust, where they provide fracture pathways for fluid escape into the upper plate. This locally reduces megathrust fluid pressure and tremor occurrence beneath the faults. Damping of tremor and related slow slip caused by fluid escape could affect fault properties of the megathrust, possibly influencing the behavior of great earthquakes.


Mantle melt production during the 1.4 Ga Laurentian magmatic event: Isotopic constraints from Colorado Plateau mantle xenoliths

Plutons associated with a 1.4 Ga magmatic event intrude across southwestern Laurentia. The tectonic setting of this major magmatic province is poorly understood. Proposed melting models include anorogenic heating from the mantle, continental arc or transpressive orogeny, and anatexis from radiogenic heat buildup in thickened crust. Re-Os analyses of refractory mantle xenoliths from the Navajo volcanic field (NVF; central Colorado Plateau) yield Re depletion ages of 2.1–1.7 Ga, consistent with the age of the overlying Yavapai and Mazatzal crust. However, new Sm-Nd isotope data from clinopyroxene in peridotite xenoliths from NVF diatremes show a subset of xenoliths that plot on a ca. 1.4 Ga isochron, which likely reflects mantle melt production and isotopic resetting at 1.4 Ga. This suggests that Paleoproterozoic subcontinental lithospheric mantle was involved in the 1.4 Ga magmatic event. Our constraints support a subduction model for the generation of the 1.4 Ga granites but are inconsistent with rifting and anorogenic anatexis models, both of which would require removal of ancient lithosphere.


Modelling satellite-derived magma discharge to explain caldera collapse

Many effusive eruptions are characterized by effusion rates that decay exponentially with time, a trend which is generally ascribed to elastic relaxation of a deep magma chamber. Thermal emissions, detected by satellite during the A.D. 2014–2015 Bárðarbunga-Holuhraun eruption (Iceland), indicate that the volume of the erupted magma and effusion rates followed an overall exponential trend that fits the observed major subsidence of the Bárðarbunga caldera floor. This trend continued until a critical flow rate was reached. Hence, the subsidence slowed down and the eruption rapidly ceased, reflecting the ultimate closure of the magma path. We present a model of inelastic magma withdrawal that very closely reproduces all the observed phenomena and provides new insights into the caldera collapses and the driving pressure of other effusive eruptions.


Timing of initial seafloor spreading in the Newfoundland-Iberia rift

Broad areas of subcontinental lithospheric mantle are commonly exposed along ocean-continent transition zones in magma-poor rifts and are thought to be exhumed along lithospheric-scale detachment faults during the final stages of rifting. However, the nature of the transition from final rifting to seafloor spreading is controversial. We present the first high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronologic and Hf isotopic data from gabbros that intrude exhumed mantle at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Sites 1070 and 1277 in the Newfoundland-Iberia rift (North Atlantic). The sites are conjugate to one another within crust that is commonly considered to have been emplaced during early seafloor spreading. Magnetic data suggest that crustal accretion occurred at both sites during magnetic polarity chrons M3–M0 (130–126 Ma). However, our data indicate that asthenospheric melts were emplaced over brief intervals (≤1 m.y.) prior to or coeval with mantle exhumation at 124 Ma at ODP Site 1070 and 115 Ma at ODP Site 1277. We suggest that this discrepancy is the result of continued mantle exhumation along large, west-dipping detachment faults until lithospheric breakup. The breakup location is likely coincident with the large-amplitude magnetic J anomaly, and our 115 Ma date for magmatism within this anomaly provides the best available age constraint for breakup along the studied transect.


Paleozoic echinoderm hangovers: Waking up in the Triassic

Echinoderms are among the marine invertebrates that underwent the most severe losses at the end-Permian extinction. The prevailing paradigm claims an extreme bottleneck with only very few, if not single, holdovers ("hangovers" herein) sparking the post-Paleozoic radiation. Here we identify previously overlooked Triassic echinoids, ophiuroids, and asteroids as unambiguous members of Paleozoic stem groups. These echinoderm hangovers occurred almost worldwide and had spread into a wide range of paleoenvironments by the Late Triassic. Our discovery challenges fundamentals of echinoderm evolution with respect to end-Permian survival and sheds new light on the early evolution of the modern clades, in particular on Triassic ghost lineages (i.e., inferred but undocumented fossil record) of the crown-group look-alikes of the Paleozoic hangovers.


Microfossil measures of rapid sea-level rise: Timing of response of two microfossil groups to a sudden tidal-flooding experiment in Cascadia

Comparisons of pre-earthquake and post-earthquake microfossils in tidal sequences are accurate means to measure coastal subsidence during past subduction earthquakes, but the amount of subsidence is uncertain, because the response times of fossil taxa to coseismic relative sea-level (RSL) rise are unknown. We measured the response of diatoms and foraminifera to restoration of a salt marsh in southern Oregon, USA. Tidal flooding following dike removal caused an RSL rise of ~1 m, as might occur by coseismic subsidence during momentum magnitude (Mw) 8.1–8.8 earthquakes on this section of the Cascadia subduction zone. Less than two weeks after dike removal, diatoms colonized low marsh and tidal flats in large numbers, showing that they can record seismically induced subsidence soon after earthquakes. In contrast, low-marsh foraminifera took at least 11 months to appear in sizeable numbers. Where subsidence measured with diatoms and foraminifera differs, their different response times may provide an estimate of postseismic vertical deformation in the months following past megathrust earthquakes.


Subtropical climate conditions and mangrove growth in Arctic Siberia during the early Eocene

The early Eocene (ca. 56–47.8 Ma) was an interval of exceptional warmth with reduced pole-to-equator temperature gradients. Climate proxies indicate mean annual air temperatures (MATs) and sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) exceeding 8–18 °C and frost-free, mild winters in polar areas, features that have proven difficult to reproduce with the most elaborate climate models. A full appraisal of the early Eocene polar climate has been, however, limited by possible seasonal biases associated with geochemical proxies and the lack of data from the vast Eurasian Arctic. Here we present multiproxy data from lower-middle Eocene coastal plain sediments of the New Siberian Islands (Russia) showing that taxodioid Cupressaceae, palms, and the mangrove Avicennia grew in Arctic Siberia above 72°N under air temperatures averaging 16–21 °C annually and 5.5–14 °C in winter. Kaolinite contents are exceptionally high (up to 60% of clay assemblages) and comparable to those found in present-day subtropical soils formed under high mean annual precipitation (MAP >1000 mm) and warm (MAT >15 °C) conditions. The Avicennia pollen records the northernmost mangrove growth ever documented and indicates early Eocene SSTs exceeding 13 °C in winter and 18 °C in summer. Considering the high MAP estimated for Arctic Siberia and other pan-Arctic landmasses, we propose that the heat from warm river waters draining into the Arctic might have amplified early Eocene polar warmth. Our results provide the first climate constraints for the early Eocene of Arctic Siberia and support the view that most climate models underestimate polar warming in greenhouse conditions.


New age constraints on Aptian evaporites and carbonates from the South Atlantic: Implications for Oceanic Anoxic Event 1a

High-resolution carbon isotope (13C) profiles from shallow- and deep-water carbonates in the South Atlantic (Campos and Santos Basins) are here correlated to stratigraphically well calibrated Tethyan sections, constraining the end of major evaporite deposition in the South Atlantic to the early Aptian Oceanic Anoxic Event (OAE) 1a interval. The unusually extensive evaporite deposition would have reduced the global dissolved sulfate inventory, possibly increasing global preservation of organic matter by decreasing sulfate reduction; this could explain the coincidence in timing between OAE 1a and the dramatic negative sulfur isotope excursion over this interval. Therefore, in addition to the coeval eruption of the Ontong Java Plateau, the opening of the South Atlantic may have played an important role in the genesis and character of OAE 1a.


Recent retreat of Columbia Glacier, Alaska: Millennial context

Columbia Glacier in Prince William Sound, Alaska, has retreated ~20 km in the past three decades. We use marine sediment records to document the Columbia Glacier advance and retreat history over the past 1.6 k.y. in an effort to place its recent retreat in the context of the Common Era (C.E.). A change in magnetic mineralogy coincided with a shift in sediment geochemistry ca. 0.9 ka. This provenance change documents the advance of Columbia Glacier across a fault, resulting in glacial erosion of mafic rocks near the coast; this agrees with the timing of ice advance reconstructed using dendrochronology. Our marine provenance records show that Columbia Glacier remained advanced south of this fault into the 21st century. Columbia Glacier has now retreated north of this fault, making its recent retreat unprecedented since before ca. 0.9 ka. Southern Alaska temperatures have now warmed to pre–0.9 ka levels, based on tree-ring and reanalysis data. We show with glacier model simulations that the warming between C.E. 1910 and 1980, that includes anthropogenic forcing, was sufficient to trigger the recent retreat of Columbia Glacier from its extended position of the past 0.9 k.y., consistent with our data-driven assessment of the relationship between regional climate change and glacier extent. We conclude that the recent retreat of Columbia Glacier is a response to climate change rather than part of a natural internal tidewater-glacier oscillation.


Paleofluvial and subglacial channel networks beneath Humboldt Glacier, Greenland

The identification of subglacial drainage systems can inform our understanding of past and present hydrological processes, landscape evolution, and ice dynamics. Here, we present evidence from satellite imagery, digital elevation models, and radio-echo sounding data for a series of channelized networks with contrasting paleofluvial and subglacial origins beneath Humboldt Glacier, northern Greenland. A >250-km-long, dendritic paleofluvial channel network beneath the northern portion of Humboldt is interpreted as a preglacial feature. Roughly linear channels beneath the southern portion of Humboldt, which display a similar distribution to tunnel valleys found on the beds of former ice sheets, are likely to have been eroded by subglacial meltwater routed along the ice-sheet bed. We suggest that basal meltwater is actively being routed down both the paleofluvial and subglacially formed channel networks to the coast. Inheritance of the preglacial channel network may have influenced the present-day location and dynamics of Humboldt Glacier and enhanced selective erosion at its down-glacier end.


Shear wave splitting across the Mid-Atlantic region of North America: A fossil anisotropy interpretation

New shear wave splitting measurements (n = 76) from the Mid-Atlantic section of North America, when combined with previously reported measurements, provide improved clarity to patterns of seismic anisotropy across the region, including a rotation of fast polarization directions () from east-west to northeast-southwest in Pennsylvania (USA). We attribute the patterns in to frozen-in (i.e., fossil) anisotropy in the lithospheric mantle. Most directions parallel the strike of the Appalachian orogen, except in parts of New England, where directions are oriented perpendicular to both the strike of the orogen and continental margin. The directions parallel to the strike of the Appalachian orogen, including those that rotate from east-west to northeast-southwest in Pennsylvania, are consistent with the expected orientation for fossil anisotropy developed during the Appalachian orogenic cycle. The directions in New England, perpendicular to the continental margin, are consistent with the expected orientation for fossil anisotropy developed during the breakup of Pangea, and directions at locations west of the Appalachian Mountains in areas not affected by the Appalachian orogeny can be explained by fossil anisotropy developed during the Proterozoic suturing of the Granite-Rhyolite Province and Elzevir block to the eastern margin of Laurentia.


Defining the mechanism for compaction of the CV chondrite parent body

The Allende meteorite, a relatively unaltered member of the CV carbonaceous chondrite group, contains primitive crystallographic textures that can inform our understanding of early Solar System planetary compaction. To test between models of porosity reduction on the CV parent body, complex microstructures within ~0.5-mm-diameter chondrules and ~10-µm-long matrix olivine grains were analyzed by electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) techniques. The large area map presented is one of the most extensive EBSD maps to have been collected in application to extraterrestrial materials. Chondrule margins preferentially exhibit limited intragrain crystallographic misorientation due to localized crystal-plastic deformation. Crystallographic preferred orientations (CPOs) preserved by matrix olivine grains are strongly coupled to grain shape, most pronounced in shortest dimension <a>, yet are locally variable in orientation and strength. Lithostatic pressure within plausible chondritic model asteroids is not sufficient to drive compaction or create the observed microstructures if the aggregate was cold. Significant local variability in the orientation and intensity of compaction is also inconsistent with a global process. Detailed microstructures indicative of crystal-plastic deformation are consistent with brief heating events that were small in magnitude. When combined with a lack of sintered grains and the spatially heterogeneous CPO, ubiquitous hot isostatic pressing is unlikely to be responsible. Furthermore, Allende is the most metamorphosed CV chondrite, so if sintering occurred at all on the CV parent body it would be evident here. We conclude that the crystallographic textures observed reflect impact compaction and indicate shock-wave directionality. We therefore present some of the first significant evidence for shock compaction of the CV parent body.


Recycling of metal-fertilized lower continental crust: Origin of non-arc Au-rich porphyry deposits at cratonic edges

Recent studies argue that subduction-modified, Cu-fertilized lithosphere controls the formation of porphyry Cu deposits in orogenic belts. However, it is unclear if and how this fertilization process operates at cratonic edges, where numerous large non-arc Au-rich deposits form. Here we report data from lower crustal amphibolite and garnet amphibolite xenoliths hosted by Cenozoic stocks that are genetically related to the Beiya Au-rich porphyry deposits along the western margin of the Yangtze craton, China. These xenoliths are thought to represent cumulates or residuals of Neoproterozoic arc magmas ponding at the base of arc at the edge of the craton that subsequently underwent high-pressure metamorphism ca. 738 Ma. The amphibolite xenoliths are enriched in Cu (383–445 ppm) and Au (7–12 ppb), and a few garnet amphibolite xenoliths contain higher Au (6–16 ppb) with higher Au/Cu ratios (2 x 10–4 to 8 x 10–4) than normal continental crust. These data suggest that metal fertilization of the base of an old arc at the edge of the craton occurred in the Neoproterozoic via subduction modification, and has since been preserved. The whole-rock geochemical and zircon Hf isotopic data indicate that melting of the Neoproterozoic Cu-Au–fertilized low-crustal cumulates at 40–30 Ma provided the metal endowment for the Au-rich porphyry system at the cratonic edge. We therefore suggest that the reactivated cratonic edges, triggered by upwelling of asthenosphere, have the potential to host significant Au ore-forming systems, especially non-arc Au-rich porphyry deposits.


Rock magnetic chronostratigraphy of the Shuram carbon isotope excursion: Wonoka Formation, Australia

The Shuram carbon isotope excursion represents a late Precambrian perturbation to Earth’s carbon cycle. Several mechanisms have been proposed, including global ocean oxygenation, methane hydrate release, and diagenesis. The plurality of hypotheses in part stems from a lack of chronostratigraphic constraints that are needed to provide the boundary conditions for geochemical models. In this study we use magnetostratigraphy and astrochronology to establish a chronostratigraphic framework for the excursion. Paleomagnetic and isotopic results from the Flinders Ranges, South Australia, and from Death Valley, California (USA), demonstrate that the nadir of the excursion is coincident with a correlative polarity transition at each locality, suggesting global synchroneity. Rock magnetic cyclostratigraphy yields an astrochronologic estimate of ~8 m.y. for the excursion’s duration at both locations. Based on these observations, and the chronologic requirements of each proposed mechanism, we rule out diagenesis and methane hydrate release as sole causes for the excursion, and suggest reexamination of the ocean oxidation hypothesis.


Evidence for hydrothermal alteration and source regions for the Kiruna iron oxide-apatite ore (northern Sweden) from zircon Hf and O isotopes

Zircon grains from the Kiruna iron oxide–apatite (IOA) ore bodies in northern Sweden are distinct in their hafnium and oxygen isotopic ratios compared to zircon grains from adjacent metavolcanic host rocks and related intrusions. Here, we combine these two isotopic systems on previously dated zircon grains to improve our understanding of these ore deposits with a long-debated origin. Contrasting theories for the formation of the Kiruna iron ores suggest either (1) emplacement through immiscible silicate–iron oxide melts or (2) transportation and deposition of iron by hydrothermal fluids. Zircon from the metavolcanic host rocks and intrusions have oxygen isotopic ratios (18O ~3) that lie below typical magmatic compositions, which is evidence that roof rocks altered by meteoric water were digested into the magma. In contrast, the ores show an influence of a fluid that is higher in 18O (~7). Based on these findings, we propose the involvement of episodic magmatic-hydrothermal fluids in the ore genesis of the Kiruna iron ore deposits: (1) the first episode related to a deep-seated magmatism and to regional-scale metasomatic alteration, and (2) a later fluid event related to shallow intrusions and responsible for the ore formation. Distinct differences in the Hf isotopic ratios for host rocks and intrusions (Hfi = –6 to –10, Archean crust) and ore (Hfi = –5 to +3, depleted mantle) further allow us to screen possible fluid sources for their involvement in the ore process.


Unleashing the potential of glendonite: A mineral archive for biogeochemical processes and paleoenvironmental conditions