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Deposition or diagenesis? Probing the Ediacaran Shuram excursion in South China by SIMS

Abstract : The Ediacaran Period (ca. 635-541 Ma) witnessed the earliest paleontological evidence for macroscopic animals (i.e., Ediacara biota) and geochemical observations of the largest carbon cycle anomaly in Earth history (i.e., Shuram Excursion, SE). Numerous hypotheses have been proposed for the origins of the SE, ranging from primary seawater anomaly to syn- or post-depositional diagenesis. Despite intensive geochemical and theoretical work published in the past decade, empirical evidence that is strictly based on fundamental petrographic results at the micrometer scale is still limited. To evaluate depositional compositions and diagenetic effects on samples from the SE, we investigated the EN3 interval in the Doushantuo Formation of South China via integrated cathodoluminescence (CL), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), and scanning electron microscope (SEM). Detailed petrographic observations reveal that the EN3 limestone is dominated by calcite microspar, with minor but variable amounts of disseminated zoned dolomite crystals. The former likely formed via neomorphism of depositional micrite, while the latter was the result of progressive post-depositional dolomitization. The mean values of paired SIMS δ13Ccalcite and δ13Cdolomite compositions are indistinguishable in each sample and consistent with published micro-drilled bulk-powder δ13C values, which we interpret to represent depositional "background" signals of seawater dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). We also observed μm-scale variability of SIMS δ13C data that may reflect a variable diagenetic overprint after deposition. Our integrated petrographic and geochemical results are consistent with a depositional origin of the SE and provide little evidence for the hypothesized isotope alteration by meteoric and mixing-zone diagenesis or late burial diagenesis. In light of this study, we propose that the SE indeed represents a marine carbon cycle anomaly that bears a close temporal link to the Ediacaran surface environment.
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Submitted on : Friday, February 25, 2022 - 7:42:58 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 7, 2022 - 1:58:33 PM

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Huan Cui, Kouki Kitajima, Ian J. Orland, Shuhai Xiao, Jean-Marc Baele, et al.. Deposition or diagenesis? Probing the Ediacaran Shuram excursion in South China by SIMS. Global and Planetary Change, 2021, 206, p. 340-358. ⟨10.1016/j.gloplacha.2021.103591⟩. ⟨insu-03589783⟩

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