Geochemical Perspectives Letters is an internationally peer-reviewed journal of the European Association of Geochemistry,
produced by and for the geochemical community:
Open access
Short (3000 words all inclusive)
Highest-quality articles spanning geochemical sciences

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 Top 10 most viewed articles (cumulative count of HTML views) for the last 60 days.

Microplastics contaminate the deepest part of the world’s ocean

Abstract:
Millions of metric tons of plastics are produced annually and transported from land to the oceans. Finding the fate of the plastic debris will help define the impacts of plastic pollution in the ocean. Here, we report the abundances of microplastic in the deepest part of the world’s ocean. We found that microplastic abundances in hadal bottom waters range from 2.06 to 13.51 pieces per litre, several times higher than those in open ocean subsurface water. Moreover, microplastic abundances in hadal sediments of the Mariana Trench vary from 200 to 2200 pieces per litre, distinctly higher than those in most deep sea sediments. These results suggest that manmade plastics have contaminated the most remote and deepest places on the planet. The hadal zone is likely one of the largest sinks for microplastic debris on Earth, with unknown but potentially damaging impacts on this fragile ecosystem.

X. Peng, M. Chen, S. Chen, S. Dasgupta, H. Xu, K. Ta, M. Du, J. Li, Z. Guo, S. Bai

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2018) 9, 1–5 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1829 | Published 27 November 2018

Article views: 2280

Oxygen limitation can trigger the production of branched GDGTs in culture

Abstract:
Branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (brGDGTs) are ubiquitous and well preserved sedimentary biomarkers. These compounds serve as important palaeoenvironmental indicators due to strong empirical correlations between brGDGT distributions and temperature and pH in modern environments. However, the mechanistic link between temperature, pH, and brGDGT production has been impossible to ascertain thus far due to the absence of a clear biological source for brGDGTs. Here, we report that oxygen limitation triggers brGDGT production in at least one cultured species of Acidobacteria and confirm for the first time the biosynthesis of three structural varieties of brGDGTs, including an uncharacterised isomer of brGDGT Ic. This discovery helps explain why brGDGT producers have been so difficult to identify and provides a pathway towards uncovering the genetic basis and biological function of brGDGTs, which will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of their palaeoenvironmental significance. If the oxygen effects observed here apply more broadly, the empirical calibrations for brGDGT-based temperature and pH reconstructions may currently be missing the effects of oxygen as a relevant and possibly dominant control in the environmental distributions of brGDGTs.

T.A. Halamka, J.M. McFarlin, A.D. Younkin, J. Depoy, N. Dildar, S.H. Kopf

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 19, 36–39 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2132 | Published 3 November 2021

Article views: 1076

Decoupling of dissolved and particulate Li isotopes during estuarine processes

Abstract:
Lithium isotopes in marine authigenic or detrital sedimentary archives have been recently used to trace continental weathering over geologic timescales. However, interpretations are predominantly based on the assumption that riverine Li isotopic signals can be propagated through estuaries without modification. Here, we verify this hypothesis by investigating the behaviour of Li isotopes in the Changjiang (Yangtze) River estuary. We observe a conservative mixing of dissolved Li and its isotopes between the Changjiang River water and seawater. The dissolved δ7Li yields a non-linear increase with salinity, and a significant increase occurs during the initial water mixing. Through the studied transect, estuarine flocculation and resuspension processes cause the homogenisation of offshore particulate δ7Li values, which are close to the average composition of upper continental crust. This study provides clear and direct evidence that the riverine dissolved Li isotopic signal is not modified during estuarine processes in large rivers, but caution should be exercised when using detrital δ7Li in marginal seas to investigate past continental weathering.

C. Yang, N. Vigier, E. Lian, Z. Lai, S. Yang

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 19, 40–44 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2133 | Published 3 November 2021

Article views: 949

Large oxygen excess in the primitive mantle could be the source of the Great Oxygenation Event

Abstract:
Before the Archean to Proterozoic Transition (APT) the tectonic regime was dominated by microplates floating on a low viscosity mantle. Such a regime restricted chemical exchange between the shallow and deeper mantle reservoirs. After the APT, a more global convection regime led to deep subduction of slabs. We propose that the improved vertical mixing of the mantle favoured the release to the Earth’s surface of an oxygen excess initially trapped in the deep mantle. This excess built up when the primordial lower mantle was left with a high Fe3+/(Fe2++Fe3+) ratio (#Fe3+), after metallic iron segregated down into the core. Our synchrotron-based in situ experiments suggest a primordial Fe3+excess of ~20 % for the mantle iron. By comparison with the #Fe3+ of the present mantle, this Fe3+excess would correspond to 500–1000 times the O2 content in the Earth’s atmosphere. The tectonic transition greatly facilitated the ascent of oxidised lower mantle material towards the Earth’s surface, inducing a continuous arrival of O2 at the Earth’s surface and into the atmosphere.

D. Andrault, M. Muñoz, G. Pesce, V. Cerantola, A. Chumakov, I. Kantor, S. Pascarelli, R. Rüffer, L. Hennet

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2018) 6, 5–10 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1801 | Published 18 January 2018

Article views: 869

Emergence of peraluminous crustal magmas and implications for the early Earth

Abstract:
Detrital zircons from the Jack Hills (JH) metasedimentary belt of Western Australia are a record of the first ∼1.5 billion years of Earth history and can be used to help reconstruct the conditions of crust formation and secular changes therein. Beginning as early as ca. 4.3 Ga, but becoming more pronounced in the mid-Archean, a peraluminous signature begins to emerge from the JH zircon record. Combined with trace elements (P, REEs) and Ti-in-zircon thermometry, this increase in peraluminosity is likely the result of deep (>7 kbar) partial melting of hydrous mafic protoliths or partial melting of metasedimentary source material. In a geodynamic context, these results may suggest a gradual shift from a vertical tectonic regime toward a horizontal tectonic regime with potential subduction-like or collisional processes creating the necessary conditions for peraluminous melt generation beginning locally at least by ∼3.6 billion years ago (Ga).

M.R. Ackerson, D. Trail, J. Buettner

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 17, 50–54 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2114 | Published 14 May 2021

Article views: 846

Insights into past tectonism from authigenic quartz

Abstract:
Authigenic quartz grains carry information that is diagnostic for the thermal history and thereby the burial depth and uplift of sediments. Recycled quartz grains with embayed or rounded authigenic remnants have been observed globally, but the value of these grains in unravelling past tectonism is presently underexplored. In this study, we launch a new method to demonstrate that cathodoluminescence (CL) in combination with fluid inclusion data and textural characteristics of authigenic quartz can provide important information about past tectonic activity. Vital in the method is the realisation that recycled quartz grains can be distinguished from other quartz grains by their geochemical CL fingerprint, allowing tracking of uplifted source terrains in a direction towards higher fractions of the recycled grains. Furthermore, regional mapping can reveal both intra-basinal recycling as well as recycled grains transported into the basin from external sources. The new proposed method is simple and does not require more than a standard Scanning Electron Microscope equipped with a CL detector, available at many geoscientific institutions worldwide. This innovative approach applies to a wide section of geoscientific disciplines, and complement and supplement other conventional methods used for unravelling past tectonism.

H. Hellevang, L.H. Line, C.H. Eide, J. Jahren, B.G. Haile

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 19, 27–31 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2130 | Published 15 October 2021

Article views: 832

Diffusional fractionation of helium isotopes in silicate melts

Abstract:
Estimating Helium (He) concentration and isotope composition of the mantle requires quantifying He loss during magma degassing. The knowledge of diffusional He isotope fractionation in silicate melts may be essential to constrain the He loss. Isotopic mass dependence of He diffusion can be empirically expressed as D3He/D4He = (4/3)β, where D is the diffusivity of a He isotope. However, no studies have reported any β values for He in silicate melts due to technical challenges in both experiments and computations. Here, molecular dynamics simulations based on deep neural network potentials trained by ab initio data show that β for He in albite melt decreases from 0.355 ± 0.012 at 3000 K to 0.322 ± 0.019 at 1700 K. β in model basalt melt takes a smaller value from 0.322 ± 0.025 to 0.274 ± 0.027 over the same temperature range. Based on our results, we suggest using D3He/D4He values of 1.097 ± 0.006 and 1.082 ± 0.008 in natural rhyolite and basalt melt, respectively, to interpret measured He concentration and isotope composition of natural samples.

H. Luo, B.B. Karki, D.B. Ghosh, H. Bao

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 19, 19–22 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2128 | Published 11 October 2021

Article views: 755

A genetic classification of the tholeiitic and calc-alkaline magma series

Abstract:
The concept of the ‘magma series’ and the distinction between alkaline, calc-alkaline and tholeiitic trends has been a cornerstone in igneous petrology since the early 20th century, and encodes fundamental information about the redox state of divergent and convergent plate tectonic settings. We show that the ‘Bowen and Fenner trends’ that characterise the calc-alkaline and tholeiitic types of magmatic environments can be approximated by a simple log ratio model based on three coupled exponential decay functions, for A = Na2O + K2O, F = FeOT and M = MgO, respectively. We use this simple natural law to define a ‘Bowen-Fenner Index’ to quantify the degree to which an igneous rock belongs to either magma series. Applying our model to a data compilation of igneous rocks from Iceland and the Cascade Mountains effectively separates these into tholeiitic and calc-alkaline trends. However the simple model fails to capture the distinct dog-leg that characterises the tholeiitic log ratio evolution, which can be attributed to the switch from ferrous to ferric iron-bearing minerals. Parameterising this switch in a two stage magma evolution model results in a more accurate fit to the Icelandic data. The same two stage model can also be fitted in A–T–M space, where ‘T’ stands for TiO2. This produces a new way to identify calc-alkaline and tholeiitic rocks that does not require the conversion of FeO and Fe2O3 to FeOT. Our results demonstrate that log ratio analysis provides a natural way to parameterise physical processes that give rise to these magma series.

P. Vermeesch, V. Pease

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 19, 1–6 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2125 | Published 30 September 2021

Article views: 753

Generation of oxidising fluids by comminution of fault rocks

Abstract:
Mechanochemical reactions exert a crucial control on the chemical environments of crustal fault zones during co-seismic and post-seismic periods. Comminution due to faulting causes activation of fault rock surfaces, such as the production of reactive radical species. In this study, we report on the generation of H2O2 by immersion of comminuted sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks that are broadly representative of those present at a variety of depths in subduction zones. Our experiments demonstrate that fresh surfaces of these rocks have an H2O2 productivity of 1.3–10.4 nmol m−2 (mean = 5.4 nmol m−2). In a natural fault zone environment, H2O2 produced after a slip event is likely to react with Fe-bearing mineral surfaces or Fe2+ in porewater, or thermally decompose to produce more oxidative ·OH. The oxidising fluid produced by fault rupture in one patch may spread and induce corrosion and degradation of surrounding fault zones. These chemical processes are likely to be important factors influencing the interaction between neighbouring seismic activities.

J. Kameda, A. Okamoto

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 19, 32–35 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2131 | Published 29 October 2021

Article views: 746

Black shale Mo isotope record reveals dynamic ocean redox during the Mesoproterozoic Era

Abstract:
Eukaryotes reached ecological importance in the late Neoproterozoic Era, some one billion years after their emergence. Their slow rise to prominence has been ascribed to prolonged environmental stagnation, but testing this idea requires an appraisal of the evolution of atmospheric and ocean chemistry. Establishing a nuanced geochemical history is, however, challenging due to the paucity of well preserved sedimentary rocks. Here, we present new Mo isotope ratios from black shale units spanning ∼1560 to ∼1170 Ma. These results, combined with literature data, reveal potential episodic expansions of oxygenated and/or mildly reducing conditions during the Mesoproterozoic Era, suggesting fluctuating oxygen availability that could have exerted a crucial control on the evolution of eukaryotes.

Y. Ye, S. Zhang, H. Wang, X. Wang, C. Tan, M. Li, C. Wu, D.E. Canfield

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 18, 16–21 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2118 | Published 15 June 2021

Article views: 712

 Top 10 most viewed articles (cumulative count of HTML views) for the last 12 months.

Microplastics contaminate the deepest part of the world’s ocean

Abstract:
Millions of metric tons of plastics are produced annually and transported from land to the oceans. Finding the fate of the plastic debris will help define the impacts of plastic pollution in the ocean. Here, we report the abundances of microplastic in the deepest part of the world’s ocean. We found that microplastic abundances in hadal bottom waters range from 2.06 to 13.51 pieces per litre, several times higher than those in open ocean subsurface water. Moreover, microplastic abundances in hadal sediments of the Mariana Trench vary from 200 to 2200 pieces per litre, distinctly higher than those in most deep sea sediments. These results suggest that manmade plastics have contaminated the most remote and deepest places on the planet. The hadal zone is likely one of the largest sinks for microplastic debris on Earth, with unknown but potentially damaging impacts on this fragile ecosystem.

X. Peng, M. Chen, S. Chen, S. Dasgupta, H. Xu, K. Ta, M. Du, J. Li, Z. Guo, S. Bai

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2018) 9, 1–5 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1829 | Published 27 November 2018

Article views: 11320

Emergence of peraluminous crustal magmas and implications for the early Earth

Abstract:
Detrital zircons from the Jack Hills (JH) metasedimentary belt of Western Australia are a record of the first ∼1.5 billion years of Earth history and can be used to help reconstruct the conditions of crust formation and secular changes therein. Beginning as early as ca. 4.3 Ga, but becoming more pronounced in the mid-Archean, a peraluminous signature begins to emerge from the JH zircon record. Combined with trace elements (P, REEs) and Ti-in-zircon thermometry, this increase in peraluminosity is likely the result of deep (>7 kbar) partial melting of hydrous mafic protoliths or partial melting of metasedimentary source material. In a geodynamic context, these results may suggest a gradual shift from a vertical tectonic regime toward a horizontal tectonic regime with potential subduction-like or collisional processes creating the necessary conditions for peraluminous melt generation beginning locally at least by ∼3.6 billion years ago (Ga).

M.R. Ackerson, D. Trail, J. Buettner

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 17, 50–54 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2114 | Published 14 May 2021

Article views: 10108

Ca isotope systematics of carbonatites: Insights into carbonatite source and evolution

Abstract:
Carbonatite, an unusual carbonate-rich igneous rock, is known to be sourced from the mantle which provides insights into mantle-to-crust carbon transfer. To constrain further the Ca isotopic composition of carbonatites, investigate the behaviour of Ca isotopes during their evolution, and constrain whether recycled carbonates are involved in their source regions, we report δ44/42Ca for 47 worldwide carbonatite and associated silicate rocks using a refined analytical protocol. Our results show that primary carbonatite and associated silicate rocks are rather homogeneous in Ca isotope compositions that are comparable to δ44/42Ca values of basalts, while non-primary carbonatites show detectable δ44/42Ca variations that are correlated to δ13C values. Our finding suggests that Ca isotopes fractionate during late stages of carbonatite evolution, making it a useful tool in the study of carbonatite evolution. The finding also implies that carbonatite is sourced from a mantle source without requiring the involvement of recycled carbonates.

J. Sun, X.-K. Zhu, N.S. Belshaw, W. Chen, A.G. Doroshkevich, W.-J. Luo, W.-L. Song, B.-B. Chen, Z.-G. Cheng, Z.-H. Li, Y. Wang, J. Kynicky, G.M. Henderson

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 17, 11–15 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2107 | Published 17 February 2021

Article views: 5211

The composition and weathering of the continents over geologic time

Abstract:
The composition of continental crust records the balance between construction by tectonics and destruction by physical and chemical erosion. Quantitative constraints on how igneous addition and chemical weathering have modified the continents’ bulk composition are essential for understanding the evolution of geodynamics and climate. Using novel data analytic techniques we have extracted temporal trends in sediments’ protolith composition and weathering intensity from the largest available compilation of sedimentary major element compositions: ∼15,000 samples from 4.0 Ga to the present. We find that the average Archean upper continental crust was silica-rich and had a similar compositional diversity to modern continents. This is consistent with an early Archean, or earlier, onset of plate tectonics. In the Archean, chemical weathering sequestered ∼25 % more CO2 per mass eroded for the same weathering intensity than in subsequent time periods, consistent with carbon mass balance despite higher Archean outgassing rates and more limited continental exposure. Since 2.0 Ga, over long (>0.5 Gyr) timescales, crustal weathering intensity has remained relatively constant. On shorter timescales over the Phanerozoic, weathering intensity is correlated to global climate state, consistent with a weathering feedback acting in response to changes in CO2 sources or sinks.

A.G. Lipp, O. Shorttle, E.A. Sperling, J.J. Brocks, D.B. Cole, P.W. Crockford, L. Del Mouro, K. Dewing, S.Q. Dornbos, J.F. Emmings, U.C. Farrell, A. Jarrett, B.W. Johnson, P. Kabanov, C.B. Keller, M. Kunzmann, A.J. Miller, N.T. Mills, B. O’Connell, S.E. Peters, N.J. Planavsky, S.R. Ritzer, S.D. Schoepfer, P.R. Wilby, J. Yang

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 17, 21–26 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2109 | Published 2 March 2021

Article views: 4877

Global climate stabilisation by chemical weathering during the Hirnantian glaciation

Abstract:
Chemical weathering of silicate rocks is a primary drawdown mechanism of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The processes that affect weathering are therefore central in controlling global climate. A temperature-controlled “weathering thermostat” has long been proposed in stabilising long-term climate, but without definitive evidence from the geologic record. Here we use lithium isotopes (δ7Li) to assess the impact of silicate weathering across a significant climate-cooling period, the end-Ordovician Hirnantian glaciation (~445 Ma). We find a positive δ7Li excursion, suggestive of a silicate weathering decline. Using a coupled lithium-carbon model, we show that initiation of the glaciation was likely caused by declining CO2 degassing, which triggered abrupt global cooling, and much lower weathering rates. This lower CO2 drawdown during the glaciation allowed climatic recovery and deglaciation. Combined, the data and model provide support from the geological record for the operation of the weathering thermostat.

P.A.E. Pogge von Strandmann, A. Desrochers, M.J. Murphy, A.J. Finlay, D. Selby, T.M. Lenton

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2017) 3, 230–237 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1726 | Published 15 June 2017

Article views: 4628

182W evidence for core-mantle interaction in the source of mantle plumes

Abstract:
Tungsten isotopes are the ideal tracers of core-mantle chemical interaction. Given that W is moderately siderophile, it preferentially partitioned into the Earth’s core during its segregation, leaving the mantle depleted in this element. In contrast, Hf is lithophile, and its short-lived radioactive isotope 182Hf decayed entirely to 182W in the mantle after metal-silicate segregation. Therefore, the 182W isotopic composition of the Earth’s mantle and its core are expected to differ by about 200 ppm. Here, we report new high precision W isotope data for mantle-derived rock samples from the Paleoarchean Pilbara Craton, and the Réunion Island and the Kerguelen Archipelago hotspots. Together with other available data, they reveal a temporal shift in the 182W isotopic composition of the mantle that is best explained by core-mantle chemical interaction. Core-mantle exchange might be facilitated by diffusive isotope exchange at the core-mantle boundary, or the exsolution of W-rich, Si-Mg-Fe oxides from the core into the mantle. Tungsten-182 isotope compositions of mantle-derived magmas are similar from 4.3 to 2.7 Ga and decrease afterwards. This change could be related to the onset of the crystallisation of the inner core or to the initiation of post-Archean deep slab subduction that more efficiently mixed the mantle.

H. Rizo, D. Andrault, N.R. Bennett, M. Humayun, A. Brandon, I. Vlastelic, B. Moine, A. Poirier, M.A. Bouhifd, D.T. Murphy

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2019) 11, 6–11 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1917 | Published 20 June 2019

Article views: 4220

Diamond forms during low pressure serpentinisation of oceanic lithosphere

Abstract:
Diamond is commonly regarded as an indicator of ultra-high pressure conditions in Earth System Science. This canonical view is challenged by recent data and interpretations that suggest metastable growth of diamond in low pressure environments. One such environment is serpentinisation of oceanic lithosphere, which produces highly reduced CH4-bearing fluids after olivine alteration by reaction with infiltrating fluids. Here we report the first ever observed in situ diamond within olivine-hosted, CH4-rich fluid inclusions from low pressure oceanic gabbro and chromitite samples from the Moa-Baracoa ophiolitic massif, eastern Cuba. Diamond is encapsulated in voids below the polished mineral surface forming a typical serpentinisation array, with methane, serpentine and magnetite, providing definitive evidence for its metastable growth upon low temperature and low pressure alteration of oceanic lithosphere and super-reduction of infiltrated fluids. Thermodynamic modelling of the observed solid and fluid assemblage at a reference P-T point appropriate for serpentinisation (350 °C and 100 MPa) is consistent with extreme reduction of the fluid to logfO2 (MPa) = −45.3 (ΔlogfO2[Iron-Magnetite] = −6.5). These findings imply that the formation of metastable diamond at low pressure in serpentinised olivine is a widespread process in modern and ancient oceanic lithosphere, questioning a generalised ultra-high pressure origin for ophiolitic diamond.

N. Pujol-Solà, A. Garcia-Casco, J.A. Proenza, J.M. González-Jiménez, A. del Campo, V. Colás, À. Canals, A. Sánchez-Navas, J. Roqué-Rosell

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2020) 15, 19–24 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2029 | Published 10 September 2020

Article views: 3922

Large oxygen excess in the primitive mantle could be the source of the Great Oxygenation Event

Abstract:
Before the Archean to Proterozoic Transition (APT) the tectonic regime was dominated by microplates floating on a low viscosity mantle. Such a regime restricted chemical exchange between the shallow and deeper mantle reservoirs. After the APT, a more global convection regime led to deep subduction of slabs. We propose that the improved vertical mixing of the mantle favoured the release to the Earth’s surface of an oxygen excess initially trapped in the deep mantle. This excess built up when the primordial lower mantle was left with a high Fe3+/(Fe2++Fe3+) ratio (#Fe3+), after metallic iron segregated down into the core. Our synchrotron-based in situ experiments suggest a primordial Fe3+excess of ~20 % for the mantle iron. By comparison with the #Fe3+ of the present mantle, this Fe3+excess would correspond to 500–1000 times the O2 content in the Earth’s atmosphere. The tectonic transition greatly facilitated the ascent of oxidised lower mantle material towards the Earth’s surface, inducing a continuous arrival of O2 at the Earth’s surface and into the atmosphere.

D. Andrault, M. Muñoz, G. Pesce, V. Cerantola, A. Chumakov, I. Kantor, S. Pascarelli, R. Rüffer, L. Hennet

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2018) 6, 5–10 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1801 | Published 18 January 2018

Article views: 3884

An arsenic-driven pump for invisible gold in hydrothermal systems

Abstract:
Pyrite (FeS2), arsenopyrite (FeAsS) and löllingite (FeAs2) are exceptional gold concentrators on Earth; yet the exact redox and structural state of this “invisible” gold and the forces driving its intake and release by these minerals remain highly controversial. Here we applied high resolution X-ray absorption spectroscopy to Au-bearing pyrite and iron sulfarsenides from hydrothermal deposits and their synthetic analogues. We show that Au preferentially enters octahedral Fe structural sites [Au(As,S)6] enriched in As, by forming respectively [AuAs1–3S5–3], [AuAs3S3⋯AuAs6] and [AuAs6] atomic units in arsenian pyrite (>0.1–1.0 wt. % As), arsenopyrite and löllingite, implying a formal oxidation state of AuII in the minerals. In contrast, in As-poor pyrite, Au is dominantly chemisorbed as [AuIS2] moieties in much lower concentrations. Combined with experimental data on Au mineral-fluid partitioning, our findings imply a universal control exerted by arsenic on gold incorporation in iron sulfides and sulfarsenides via coupled Au-As redox reactions. These reactions account for the observed variations in invisible gold contents in the minerals from different hydrothermal deposit types and enable quantitative prediction of iron sulfarsenide ability in controlling gold concentration and distribution in hydrothermal systems.

G.S. Pokrovski, C. Escoda, M. Blanchard, D. Testemale, J.-L. Hazemann, S. Gouy, M.A. Kokh, M.-C. Boiron, F. de Parseval, T. Aigouy, L. Menjot, P. de Parseval, O. Proux, M. Rovezzi, D. Béziat, S. Salvi, K. Kouzmanov, T. Bartsch, R. Pöttgen, T. Doert

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2021) 17, 39–44 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2112 | Published 20 April 2021

Article views: 3604

The effect of warming climate on nutrient and solute export from the Greenland Ice Sheet

Abstract:
Glacial meltwater runoff is likely an important source of limiting nutrients for downstream primary producers. This has particular significance for regions surrounding the Greenland Ice Sheet, which discharges >400 km3 of meltwater annually. The Arctic is warming rapidly but the impact of higher discharge on nutrient export is unknown. We present four years of hydrological and geochemical data from a large Greenland Ice Sheet catchment that includes the two highest melt years on record (2010, 2012). Measurements reveal significant variation in dissolved solute (major ion) and estimated dissolved macronutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus and silica) fluxes, with increases in higher melt years. Labile particulate macronutrients dominate nutrient export, accounting for ~50 % of nitrogen and >80 % of both phosphorus and silica. The response of ice sheet nutrient export to enhanced melting is largely controlled by particle bound nutrients, the future supply of which is uncertain. We propose that the Greenland Ice Sheet provides an underappreciated and annually dynamic source of nutrients for the polar oceans, with changes in meltwater discharge likely to impact marine primary productivity in future decades.

J.R. Hawkings, J.L. Wadham, M. Tranter, E. Lawson, A. Sole, T. Cowton, A.J. Tedstone, I. Bartholomew, P. Nienow, D. Chandler, J. Telling

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2015) 1, 94–104 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1510 | Published 23 June 2015

Article views: 3591

 Top 10 most viewed articles (cumulative count of HTML views) for all time.

Microplastics contaminate the deepest part of the world’s ocean

Abstract:
Millions of metric tons of plastics are produced annually and transported from land to the oceans. Finding the fate of the plastic debris will help define the impacts of plastic pollution in the ocean. Here, we report the abundances of microplastic in the deepest part of the world’s ocean. We found that microplastic abundances in hadal bottom waters range from 2.06 to 13.51 pieces per litre, several times higher than those in open ocean subsurface water. Moreover, microplastic abundances in hadal sediments of the Mariana Trench vary from 200 to 2200 pieces per litre, distinctly higher than those in most deep sea sediments. These results suggest that manmade plastics have contaminated the most remote and deepest places on the planet. The hadal zone is likely one of the largest sinks for microplastic debris on Earth, with unknown but potentially damaging impacts on this fragile ecosystem.

X. Peng, M. Chen, S. Chen, S. Dasgupta, H. Xu, K. Ta, M. Du, J. Li, Z. Guo, S. Bai

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2018) 9, 1–5 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1829 | Published 27 November 2018

Article views: 38583

Global climate stabilisation by chemical weathering during the Hirnantian glaciation

Abstract:
Chemical weathering of silicate rocks is a primary drawdown mechanism of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The processes that affect weathering are therefore central in controlling global climate. A temperature-controlled “weathering thermostat” has long been proposed in stabilising long-term climate, but without definitive evidence from the geologic record. Here we use lithium isotopes (δ7Li) to assess the impact of silicate weathering across a significant climate-cooling period, the end-Ordovician Hirnantian glaciation (~445 Ma). We find a positive δ7Li excursion, suggestive of a silicate weathering decline. Using a coupled lithium-carbon model, we show that initiation of the glaciation was likely caused by declining CO2 degassing, which triggered abrupt global cooling, and much lower weathering rates. This lower CO2 drawdown during the glaciation allowed climatic recovery and deglaciation. Combined, the data and model provide support from the geological record for the operation of the weathering thermostat.

P.A.E. Pogge von Strandmann, A. Desrochers, M.J. Murphy, A.J. Finlay, D. Selby, T.M. Lenton

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2017) 3, 230–237 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1726 | Published 15 June 2017

Article views: 32046

Copper isotope evidence for large-scale sulphide fractionation during Earth’s differentiation

Abstract:
The differentiation of Earth into a metallic core and silicate mantle left its signature on the chemical and isotopic composition of the bulk silicate Earth (BSE). This is seen in the depletion of siderophile (metal-loving) relative to lithophile (rock-loving) elements in Earth’s mantle as well as the silicon isotope offset between primitive meteorites (i.e. bulk Earth) and BSE, which is generally interpreted as a proof that Si is present in Earth’s core. Another putative light element in Earth’s core is sulphur; however, estimates of core S abundance vary significantly and, due to its volatile nature, no unequivocal S isotopic signature for core fractionation has thus far been detected. Here we present new high precision isotopic data for Cu, a chalcophile (sulphur-loving) element, which shows that Earth’s mantle is isotopically fractionated relative to bulk Earth. Results from high pressure equilibration experiments suggest that the sense of Cu isotopic fractionation between BSE and bulk Earth requires that a sulphide-rich liquid segregated from Earth’s mantle during differentiation, which likely entered the core. Such an early-stage removal of a sulphide-rich phase from the mantle presents a possible solution to the long-standing 1st terrestrial lead paradox.

P.S. Savage, F. Moynier, H. Chen, J. Siebert, J. Badro, I.S. Puchtel, G. Shofner

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2015) 1, 53–64 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1506 | Published 4 June 2015

Article views: 24886

Release of subducted sedimentary nitrogen throughout Earth’s mantle

Abstract:
The dynamic process of subduction represents the principal means to introduce chemical heterogeneities into Earth's interior. In the case of nitrogen (N) - atmosphere's most abundant gas - biological-activity converts N2 into ammonium ions (NH4+), which are chemically-bound within seafloor sediments and altered oceanic crust that comprise the subducting slab. Although some subducted N re-emerges via arc-related volcanism (Sano et al., 1998), the majority likely bypasses sub-arc depths (150-200 km) and supplies the deeper mantle (Li et al., 2007; Mitchell et al., 2010; Johnson and Goldblatt, 2015; Bebout et al., 2016). However, the fate of subducted N remains enigmatic: is it incorporated by the shallow convecting mantle - the source of ridge volcanism, or is the deeper mantle - nominally associated with mantle plumes - its ultimate repository? Here, we present N-He-Ne-Ar isotope data for oceanic basalts from the Central Indian Ridge (CIR)-Réunion plume region to address this issue. All on-axis samples with depleted MORB mantle (DMM) affinities (3He/4He = 8 ± 1 RA; Graham, 2002) have low N-isotopes (mean δ15N = -2.1 ‰), whereas those with plume-like 3He/4He display higher values (mean δ15N = 1.3 ‰). We explain these data within the framework of a new mantle reference model to predict a time-integrated net N regassing flux to the mantle of ~3.4 × 1010 mol/yr, with the plume-source mantle representing the preferential destination by a factor of 2-3. The model has implications for the present-day imbalance between N subducted at trenches and N emitted via arc-related volcanism, the N-content of Earth's early atmosphere, as well as relationships between N2 and the noble gases in mantle reservoirs, including 3He/4He-δ15N relationships in plume-derived lavas.

P.H. Barry, D.R. Hilton

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2016) 2, 148–159 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1615 | Published 3 May 2016

Article views: 22013

Oxygenation of the mid-Proterozoic atmosphere: clues from chromium isotopes in carbonates

Abstract:
Chromium (Cr) isotopes in marine sedimentary rocks can be used as a sensitive proxy for ancient atmospheric oxygen because Cr-isotope fractionation during terrestrial weathering only occurs when pO2 exceeds a threshold value. This is a useful system when applied to rocks of mid-Proterozoic age, where fundamental questions persist about atmospheric pO2 and its relationship to biological innovation. Whereas previous studies have focused on temporally limited iron-rich sedimentary rocks, we present new Cr-isotope data from a suite of mid-Proterozoic marine carbonate rocks. Application of the Cr-isotope proxy to carbonate rocks has the potential to greatly enhance the temporal resolution of Proterozoic palaeo-redox data. Here we report positive δ53Cr values in four carbonate successions, extending the mid-Proterozoic record of Cr-isotope fractionation – and thus pO2 above threshold values – back to ~1.1 Ga. These data suggest that pO2 sufficient for the origin of animals was transiently in place well before their Neoproterozoic appearance, although uncertainty in the pO2 threshold required for Cr-isotope fractionation precludes definitive biological interpretation. This study provides a proof of concept that the Cr-isotopic composition of carbonate rocks can provide important new constraints on the oxygen content of the ancient atmosphere.

G.J. Gilleaudeau, R. Frei, A.J. Kaufman, L.C. Kah, K. Azmy, J.K. Bartley, P. Chernyavskiy, A.H. Knoll

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2016) 2, 178–187 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1618 | Published 24 May 2016

Article views: 21960

182W evidence for core-mantle interaction in the source of mantle plumes

Abstract:
Tungsten isotopes are the ideal tracers of core-mantle chemical interaction. Given that W is moderately siderophile, it preferentially partitioned into the Earth’s core during its segregation, leaving the mantle depleted in this element. In contrast, Hf is lithophile, and its short-lived radioactive isotope 182Hf decayed entirely to 182W in the mantle after metal-silicate segregation. Therefore, the 182W isotopic composition of the Earth’s mantle and its core are expected to differ by about 200 ppm. Here, we report new high precision W isotope data for mantle-derived rock samples from the Paleoarchean Pilbara Craton, and the Réunion Island and the Kerguelen Archipelago hotspots. Together with other available data, they reveal a temporal shift in the 182W isotopic composition of the mantle that is best explained by core-mantle chemical interaction. Core-mantle exchange might be facilitated by diffusive isotope exchange at the core-mantle boundary, or the exsolution of W-rich, Si-Mg-Fe oxides from the core into the mantle. Tungsten-182 isotope compositions of mantle-derived magmas are similar from 4.3 to 2.7 Ga and decrease afterwards. This change could be related to the onset of the crystallisation of the inner core or to the initiation of post-Archean deep slab subduction that more efficiently mixed the mantle.

H. Rizo, D. Andrault, N.R. Bennett, M. Humayun, A. Brandon, I. Vlastelic, B. Moine, A. Poirier, M.A. Bouhifd, D.T. Murphy

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2019) 11, 6–11 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1917 | Published 20 June 2019

Article views: 21865

Environmental pressure from the 2014–15 eruption of Bárðarbunga volcano, Iceland

Abstract:
The effusive six months long 2014‒2015 Bárðarbunga eruption (31 August‒27 February) was the largest in Iceland for more than 200 years, producing 1.6 ± 0.3 km3 of lava. The total SO2 emission was 11.8 ± 5 Mt, more than the amount emitted from Europe in 2011. The ground level concentration of SO2 exceeded the 350 µg m3 hourly average health limit over much of Iceland for days to weeks. Anomalously high SO2 concentrations were also measured at several locations in Europe in September. The lowest pH of fresh snowmelt at the eruption site was 3.3, and 3.2 in precipitation 105 km away from the source. Elevated dissolved H2SO4, HCl, HF, and metal concentrations were measured in snow and precipitation. Environmental pressures from the eruption and impacts on populated areas were reduced by its remoteness, timing, and the weather. The anticipated primary environmental pressure is on the surface waters, soils, and vegetation of Iceland.

S.R. Gíslason, G. Stefánsdóttir, M.A. Pfeffer, S. Barsotti, Th. Jóhannsson, I. Galeczka, E. Bali, O. Sigmarsson, A. Stefánsson, N.S. Keller, Á. Sigurdsson, B. Bergsson, B. Galle, V.C. Jacobo, S. Arellano, A. Aiuppa, E.B. Jónasdóttir, E.S. Eiríksdóttir, S. Jakobsson, G.H. Guðfinnsson, S.A. Halldórsson, H. Gunnarsson, B. Haddadi, I. Jónsdóttir, Th. Thordarson, M. Riishuus, Th. Högnadóttir, T. Dürig, G.B.M. Pedersen, Á. Höskuldsson, M.T. Gudmundsson

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2015) 1, 84–93 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1509 | Published 29 June 2015

Article views: 20127

Molecular hydrogen in mantle minerals

Abstract:
Current models assume that hydrogen was delivered to Earth already in oxidised form as water or OH groups in minerals; similarly, it is generally believed that hydrogen is stored in the present mantle mostly as OH. Here we show by experiments at 2-7 GPa and 1100-1300 °C that, under reducing conditions, molecular hydrogen (H2) has an appreciable solubility in various upper mantle minerals. This observation suggests that during the accretion of the Earth, nebular H2 could have been delivered to the growing solid planet by direct dissolution in a magma ocean and subsequent incorporation in silicates. Moreover, the presence of dissolved molecular H2 in the minerals of the lower mantle could explain why magmas sourced in this region are rich in hydrogen, despite the fact that lower mantle minerals contain almost no OH groups.

X. Yang, H. Keppler, Y. Li

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2016) 2, 160–168 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1616 | Published 18 March 2016

Article views: 20036

Rapid response of silicate weathering rates to climate change in the Himalaya

Abstract:
Chemical weathering of continental rocks plays a central role in regulating the carbon cycle and the Earth's climate (Walker et al., 1981; Berner et al., 1983), accounting for nearly half the consumption of atmospheric carbon dioxide globally (Beaulieu et al., 2012). However, the role of climate variability on chemical weathering is still strongly debated. Here we focus on the Himalayan range and use the lithium isotopic composition of clays in fluvial terraces to show a tight coupling between climate change and chemical weathering over the past 40 ka. Between 25 and 10 ka ago, weathering rates decrease despite temperature increase and monsoon intensification. This suggests that at this timescale, temperature plays a secondary role compared to runoff and physical erosion, which inhibit chemical weathering by accelerating sediment transport and act as fundamental controls in determining the feedback between chemical weathering and atmospheric carbon dioxide.

A. Dosseto, N. Vigier, R. Joannes-Boyau, I. Moffat, T. Singh, P. Srivastava

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2015) 1, 10–19 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1502 | Published 20 February 2015

Article views: 19987

The effect of warming climate on nutrient and solute export from the Greenland Ice Sheet

Abstract:
Glacial meltwater runoff is likely an important source of limiting nutrients for downstream primary producers. This has particular significance for regions surrounding the Greenland Ice Sheet, which discharges >400 km3 of meltwater annually. The Arctic is warming rapidly but the impact of higher discharge on nutrient export is unknown. We present four years of hydrological and geochemical data from a large Greenland Ice Sheet catchment that includes the two highest melt years on record (2010, 2012). Measurements reveal significant variation in dissolved solute (major ion) and estimated dissolved macronutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus and silica) fluxes, with increases in higher melt years. Labile particulate macronutrients dominate nutrient export, accounting for ~50 % of nitrogen and >80 % of both phosphorus and silica. The response of ice sheet nutrient export to enhanced melting is largely controlled by particle bound nutrients, the future supply of which is uncertain. We propose that the Greenland Ice Sheet provides an underappreciated and annually dynamic source of nutrients for the polar oceans, with changes in meltwater discharge likely to impact marine primary productivity in future decades.

J.R. Hawkings, J.L. Wadham, M. Tranter, E. Lawson, A. Sole, T. Cowton, A.J. Tedstone, I. Bartholomew, P. Nienow, D. Chandler, J. Telling

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2015) 1, 94–104 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1510 | Published 23 June 2015

Article views: 18782