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Iron isotopes in an Archean ocean analogue

Abstract : ron isotopes have been extensively used to trace the history of microbial metabolisms and the redox evolution of the oceans. Archean sedimentary rocks display greater variability in iron isotope ratios and more markedly negative values than those deposited in the Proterozoic and Phanerozoic. This increased variability has been linked to changes in either water column iron cycling or the extent of benthic microbial iron reduction through time. We tested these contrasting scenarios through a detailed study of anoxic and ferruginous Lac Pavin (France), which can serve as a modern analogue of the Archean ocean. A depth-profile in the water column of Lac Pavin shows a remarkable increase in dissolved Fe concentration (0.1-1200 mu M) and delta Fe-56 values (-2.14 parts per thousand to +0.31 parts per thousand) across the oxic-anoxic boundary to the lake bottom. The largest Fe isotope variability is found at the redox boundary and is related to partial oxidation of dissolved ferrous iron, leaving the residual Fe enriched in light isotopes. The analysis of four sediment cores collected along a lateral profile (one in the oxic layer, one at the redox boundary, one in the anoxic zone, and one at the bottom of the lake) indicates that bulk sediments, porewaters, and reactive Fe mostly have delta Fe-56 values near 0.0 +/- 0.2 parts per thousand, similar to detrital iron. In contrast, pyrite delta Fe-56 values in sub-chemocline cores (60, 65, and 92 m) are highly variable and show significant deviations from the detrital iron isotope composition (delta Fe-56(pyrite) between -1.51 parts per thousand and +0.09 parts per thousand; average -0.93 parts per thousand). Importantly, the pyrite delta Fe-56 values mirror the delta Fe-56 of dissolved iron at the redox boundary-where near quantitative sulfate and sulfide drawdown occurs-suggesting limited iron isotope fractionation during iron sulfide formation. This finding has important implications for the Archean environment. Specifically, this work suggests that in a ferruginous system, most of the Fe isotope variability observed in sedimentary pyrites can be tied to water column cycling-foremost to the oxidation of dissolved ferrous iron. This supports previous suggestions that enhanced iron isotope variability in the Archean may record a unique stage in Earth's history where partial ferrous iron oxidation in upwelling water masses was a common process, probably linked to oxygenic or anoxygenic photosynthesis
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Vincent Busigny, Noah Planavsky, Didier Jézéquel, Sean Crowe, Pascale Louvat, et al.. Iron isotopes in an Archean ocean analogue. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Elsevier, 2014, 133, pp.443-462. ⟨10.1016/j.gca.2014.03.004⟩. ⟨insu-02887221⟩



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