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

Eroglu, Suemeyya, van Zuilen, Mark, Taubald, Heinrich, Drost, Kerstin, Wille, Martin, Swanner, Elizabeth D., Beukes, Nicolas J. and Schoenberg, Ronny (2017) Depth-dependent δ13 C trends in platform and slope settings of the Campbellrand-Malmani carbonate platform and possible implications for Early Earth oxygenation. Open Access Precambrian Research, 302 . pp. 122-139. DOI 10.1016/j.precamres.2017.09.018.

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Supplementary data:



• 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.


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.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Neoarchean carbonate platform, oxygen oasis, carbon isotopes, rare earth elements, carbonate diagenesis
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-P-OZ Paleo-Oceanography
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.precamres.2017.09.018
ISSN: 0301-9268
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2017 08:21
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2019 23:38

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