Geochemical Perspectives Letters a journal of the European Association of Geochemistry
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River chemistry reveals a large decrease in dolomite abundance across the Phanerozoic

Abstract:
The abundance of dolomite in ancient carbonate sediments, and its apparent rarity today, has important implications for the coupled Ca-Mg-C-cycles in seawater and global climate. Despite its importance, there are large differences between published records of dolomite abundance vs. geologic age, mainly due to complexities in adequately sampling heterogeneous bedrock. We overcome this issue by using dissolved Mg2+ and Ca2+ measurements in rivers draining carbonate-bearing bedrock. Because rivers weather broad areas, this approach integrates the geochemical composition of much larger volumes of carbonate compared to sample based methods. The average Mg/(Ca + Mg) molar ratio in rivers declines with decreasing bedrock age, from 0.44 at ∼485 million year old (Ma) to 0.14 at ∼5 Ma, suggesting a decreasing percentage of dolomite in carbonate sequences across the Phanerozoic Eon. These data are hard to reconcile with any model that relies only upon oscillatory drivers to explain the dolomite abundance record, such as sea level or episodic expansions of ocean anoxia, and have important implications for the oceanic Mg cycle.

J.M. Husson, L.A. Coogan

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2023) 26, 1–6 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2316 | Published 26 May 2023

Article views: 1693

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: 523

4.46 Ga zircons anchor chronology of lunar magma ocean

Abstract:
The crystallisation ages of lunar samples provide critical constraints on the minimum formation age of the Moon and its early evolution. Zircon crystals from Apollo 17 lunar impact melt breccia 72255 preserve ancient domains with a concordant average uranium-lead radiometric date of 4460 ± 31 Ma (Zhang et al., 2021), the oldest lunar zircon yet reported. To assess the possible mobility of radiogenic lead in zircon, which may lead to redistribution and clustering of Pb atoms that may cause a U-Pb age bias (Valley et al., 2014), we investigated a zircon grain from Zhang et al. (2021) by atom probe tomography (APT). The atomic spatial resolution analysis of individual mineral grains demonstrates the absence of nanoscale clustering of lead, which supports a 4.46 Ga ancient formation age for lunar zircon in sample 72255. This age pushes back the age of the first preserved lunar crust by ∼40 Myr and provides a minimum formation age for the Moon within 110 Myr after the formation of the solar system.

J. Greer, B. Zhang, D. Isheim, D.N. Seidman, A. Bouvier, P.R. Heck

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2023) 27, 49–53 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2334 | Published 23 October 2023

Article views: 434

Tracking the formation of magma oceans in the Solar System using stable magnesium isotopes

Abstract:
The processes associated with magma ocean formation and solidification can control the earliest compositional differentiation and volatile inventory of planetary bodies. Thus, elucidating the scale and extent to which magma oceans existed in the Solar System is critical for a full understanding of planet formation. Here we show that the magnesium isotope compositions of the co-magmatic diogenite and eucrite meteorites originating from the protoplanet Vesta are distinct and this is a predictable consequence of extensive crystallisation in a shallow magma ocean. The enrichment in the heavy magnesium isotopes observed in eucrites relative to diogenites is consistent with the isotopic differences measured between minerals and whole-rock basalts on Earth and other asteroids. This isotope effect is not readily observed on Earth due to the lower primary melt magnesium contents produced at smaller degrees of melting and less extensive amounts of mafic mineral crystallisation. However, it is discernible on other planetary bodies where magma oceans formed and crystallised and, thus, Mg isotopes provide a tracer of their previous existence.

M. Schiller, J.A. Dallas, J. Creech, M. Bizzarro, J.A. Baker

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2017) 3, 22–31 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.1703 | Published 1 September 2016

Article views: 393

Imaging of boron in altered mantle rocks illuminates progressive serpentinisation episodes

Abstract:
Serpentinised mantle rocks reflect the cumulative sum of multiple alteration events, but to date, identifying distinct serpentinisation episodes has remained challenging due to limited knowledge of the spatial distribution of tracers of fluid-rock exchange. Here we present novel high spatial resolution (∼10 μm) boron, nickel, calcium, and lithium concentration maps combined with in situ boron isotope analyses of strongly serpentinised mantle peridotites from the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus. Our maps indicate strongly heterogenous boron concentrations with high boron concentrations in early formed serpentine replacing olivine but much lower boron contents in mesh-textured serpentine and bastitic pyroxene. Late stage crosscutting serpentine veins have very low boron concentrations. In contrast, boron isotope measurements, made at coarser scales, are remarkably uniform (mean value +11.9 ± 3.2 ‰, 1σ, n = 49). We interpret the high boron serpentine as reflecting the partial preservation of an early pervasive serpentinisation episode by fluids with high boron concentrations sourced from the dehydration of the subducting Cyprus slab. Subsequent serpentine phases with moderate to low boron reflect progressive recrystallisation and leaching by low boron concentration meteoric waters.

A.D. Evans, C.D. Standish, J.A. Milton, A.G. Robbins, D. Craw, G.L. Foster, D.A.H. Teagle

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2024) 29, 20–25 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2407 | Published 23 February 2024

Article views: 387

Fractionation of Nb/Ta during subduction of carbonate-rich sediments

Abstract:
We report high precision high field strength element (HFSE) concentrations of Italian Plio-Quaternary mafic magmas. Silica-undersaturated rocks of the Roman magmatic province show high Nb/Ta. Instead, earlier silica-oversaturated rocks of the Tuscan magmatic province have unfractionated Nb/Ta. We show evidence that the high Nb/Ta of Roman magmas reflects subduction-derived, carbonate-rich melts. Similar melts may also account for high Nb/Ta in other silica-undersaturated magmas from the circum-Mediterranean (e.g., Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey) and the Sunda arc, previously interpreted to reflect residual rutile. We propose a genetic link between high Nb/Ta, silica-undersaturated magmas and recycling of carbonate-rich lithologies via subduction. As such, Nb/Ta can be used to trace the recycling of subducting carbonates.

A. Bragagni, R. Avanzinelli, C. Münker, F. Mastroianni, S. Conticelli

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2024) 29, 38–42 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2410 | Published 5 March 2024

Article views: 324

Molybdenum isotopes in plume-influenced MORBs reveal recycling of ancient anoxic sediments

Abstract:
Under modern oxidising Earth surface conditions, dehydrated subducted slabs show Mo isotope compositions as low as δ98/95Mo = −1.5 ‰, compared to the depleted mantle δ98/95Mo = −0.2 ‰. Such light Mo isotope compositions reflect the redox-dependent aqueous mobility of isotopically heavy Mo associated with slab dehydration. Here we analysed basaltic glasses from the South-Mid Atlantic Ridge, whose parental melts are influenced by the enriched Discovery and Shona mantle plumes. We report increasingly higher δ98/95Mo of up to −0.1 ‰ from the most depleted samples towards those tapping more enriched mantle sources. δ98/95Mo values correlate with radiogenic Sr and Nd isotopes, which indicates the recycling of Proterozoic sediments with a Mo isotopic composition that was not affected by subduction-related, oxic dehydration. We propose that the Mo isotope signatures were retained during subduction and reflect anoxic conditions during deep sea sedimentation in the mid-Proterozoic. Finally, Mo isotope fractionation between different terrestrial reservoirs likely depends on the slab redox budget, and therefore on the timing of subduction with regard to Earth’s surface oxygenation.

Q. Ahmad, M. Wille, C. Rosca, J. Labidi, T. Schmid, K. Mezger, S. König

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2022) 23, 43–48 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2236 | Published 12 October 2022

Article views: 324

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: 289

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: 281

Kinetics of low-temperature H2 production in ultramafic rocks by ferroan brucite oxidation

Abstract:
Ferroan brucite, (Mg,Fe)(OH)2, is among the potential mineral candidates for low temperature (<423 K) abiotic H2 production in ultramafic rocks. To verify this assumption, synthetic ferroan brucite with grain size similar to that observed in natural samples (40–100 nm) was reacted with pure water at temperatures ranging from 348 to 573 K. Experimental products are consistent with the reaction 3 Fe(OH)2brucite = Fe3O4 + H2 + 2 H2O. This reaction reached completion in ∼2 months at 378 K and is thermally activated with an activation energy of 145 ± 1 kJ/mol. The standard state formation enthalpy and the third law entropy of amakinite, Fe(OH)2, were refined from the experimental dataset. The new thermodynamic parameters imply that ferroan brucite is stable at significantly lower hydrogen activity than previously calculated. The alteration of Fe-brucite produces H2 at rates compatible with present day observations of H2 emissions in natural settings (ophiolite and mid-oceanic ridges). However, efficient fluid renewal is required, as opposed to H2 production through olivine serpentinisation, which can proceed in static hydraulic conditions.

W. Carlin, B. Malvoisin, F. Brunet, B. Lanson, N. Findling, M. Lanson, T. Fargetton, L. Jeannin, O. Lhote

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2024) 29, 27–32 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2408 | Published 5 March 2024

Article views: 275

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

4.46 Ga zircons anchor chronology of lunar magma ocean

Abstract:
The crystallisation ages of lunar samples provide critical constraints on the minimum formation age of the Moon and its early evolution. Zircon crystals from Apollo 17 lunar impact melt breccia 72255 preserve ancient domains with a concordant average uranium-lead radiometric date of 4460 ± 31 Ma (Zhang et al., 2021), the oldest lunar zircon yet reported. To assess the possible mobility of radiogenic lead in zircon, which may lead to redistribution and clustering of Pb atoms that may cause a U-Pb age bias (Valley et al., 2014), we investigated a zircon grain from Zhang et al. (2021) by atom probe tomography (APT). The atomic spatial resolution analysis of individual mineral grains demonstrates the absence of nanoscale clustering of lead, which supports a 4.46 Ga ancient formation age for lunar zircon in sample 72255. This age pushes back the age of the first preserved lunar crust by ∼40 Myr and provides a minimum formation age for the Moon within 110 Myr after the formation of the solar system.

J. Greer, B. Zhang, D. Isheim, D.N. Seidman, A. Bouvier, P.R. Heck

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2023) 27, 49–53 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2334 | Published 23 October 2023

Article views: 40392

Earth’s first glaciation at 2.9 Ga revealed by triple oxygen isotopes

Abstract:
We here report the lowest (∼3 ‰ VSMOW) δ18O values for any weathering-related sedimentary rock in Earth’s history, from shales and diamictites of the Mesoarchaean Pongola Supergroup of South Africa. This volcano-sedimentary succession was deposited in a shallow epeiric sea on continental crust of the Kaapvaal Craton and includes the record of the Earth’s oldest surface glaciation. Oxygen isotope data of shales of the Mozaan Group indicate gradual climatic cooling of the surface environments that culminated in glacial conditions at ∼2.90 Ga. Mathematical inversion of measured Δ'17O and δ18O values results in δ18O values around −20 ‰ for weathering waters, suggesting cold climate conditions. These observations suggest continental weathering of the Kaapval Craton involving low δ18O meteoric waters, possibly in a near-polar position.

A. Hofmann, I.N. Bindeman

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2023) 26, 20–24 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2319 | Published 13 June 2023

Article views: 12271

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: 12073

River chemistry reveals a large decrease in dolomite abundance across the Phanerozoic

Abstract:
The abundance of dolomite in ancient carbonate sediments, and its apparent rarity today, has important implications for the coupled Ca-Mg-C-cycles in seawater and global climate. Despite its importance, there are large differences between published records of dolomite abundance vs. geologic age, mainly due to complexities in adequately sampling heterogeneous bedrock. We overcome this issue by using dissolved Mg2+ and Ca2+ measurements in rivers draining carbonate-bearing bedrock. Because rivers weather broad areas, this approach integrates the geochemical composition of much larger volumes of carbonate compared to sample based methods. The average Mg/(Ca + Mg) molar ratio in rivers declines with decreasing bedrock age, from 0.44 at ∼485 million year old (Ma) to 0.14 at ∼5 Ma, suggesting a decreasing percentage of dolomite in carbonate sequences across the Phanerozoic Eon. These data are hard to reconcile with any model that relies only upon oscillatory drivers to explain the dolomite abundance record, such as sea level or episodic expansions of ocean anoxia, and have important implications for the oceanic Mg cycle.

J.M. Husson, L.A. Coogan

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2023) 26, 1–6 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2316 | Published 26 May 2023

Article views: 10415

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: 8666

A whole-lithosphere view of continental growth

Abstract:
Continental crust is a defining feature of Earth; yet, the mechanisms that control its growth remain hotly debated. Many approaches to estimating crustal growth focus solely on a single mineral—zircon, while constraints from the lithospheric mantle root remain largely neglected. Here, we critically examine the ability of zircon to accurately record the relative roles of juvenile crustal addition versus recycling, and present an alternative approach based on the geochemistry of crustal rock samples. The resulting model of continental crustal growth parallels, but pre-dates, the pattern of cratonic mantle lithosphere formation ages, indicating a distinct relationship between the continental crust and its mantle root. Our results indicate that continental crust and deep cratonic lithospheric roots grew progressively over ∼2.5 Gyr of Earth history, with clear temporal links to the birth of extensive lithospheric keels and establishment of continental drainage basins.

J.R. Reimink, J.H.F.L. Davies, J.-F. Moyen, D.G. Pearson

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2023) 26, 45–49 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2324 | Published 3 August 2023

Article views: 6726

Dust transport enhanced land surface weatherability in a cooling world

Abstract:
The weatherability of exposed silicate rocks drives the efficiency of climatic feedback on the geological carbon cycle through silicate weathering. However, the controls and evolution of land surface weatherability are not fully understood. Tectonically induced exposure of fresh silicates can induce a wide range of weatherability, depending on the maturity and lithology of the exhumed rocks. Here, we propose that aeolian dust has potentially been pivotal in sustaining land surface weatherability during global cooling. Our analysis of palaeoclimate simulations shows an additional transport of 1072 ± 69 Tg yr−1 of dust to regions with precipitation of more than 400 mm yr−1 during the Last Glacial Maximum compared to the pre-industrial period. As dust mainly contains fresh minerals with high surface areas, such dust transport markedly increases land surface weatherability, yielding an additional atmospheric CO2 consumption of 0.431 ± 0.030 Tmol yr−1, which would offset the reduced silicate weathering induced by weaker climatic forcing. It is suggested that a dustier world could increase global land surface weatherability, leading to a more buffered carbon cycle that sustained low atmospheric CO2 levels.

Y. Yang, A. Galy, J. Zhang, F. Lambert, M. Zhang, F. Zhang, X. Fang

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2023) 26, 36–39 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2322 | Published 6 July 2023

Article views: 5689

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: 5356

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: 5211

Accessory mineral constraints on crustal evolution: elemental fingerprints for magma discrimination

Abstract:
Underexplored accessory minerals such as titanite and apatite have the potential to give insights into the nature and the petrogenesis of their host rock. Their trace element and REE-rich compositions carry a record of crystallisation history and chemical characteristics of their source. Moreover, titanite and, to a certain extent, apatite are resistant to erosion during sedimentary cycles which makes them ideal to reconstruct the history of long-eroded continental landmasses. Here we report new trace element data on apatite and titanite from granitoids of different Archean cratons and comparative granitoids from the Phanerozoic. Trace element signatures of both minerals reveal systematic chemical trends in Y, LREE and Sr contents related to the nature of their host magma, which are used to construct discrimination diagrams delineating Archean TTGs from sanukitoids, and modern adakites from S/I-type granites. By comparing Archean granitoids (TTG and sanukitoids) and their Phanerozoic counterparts (adakite and high Ba-Sr granites), we show that the robust nature of these phases makes them reliable recorders of petrogenetic information from Archean rocks, that usually have been affected by secondary processes (metamorphism, deformation, hydrothermal activity). Applied to the rock record, both phases potentially provide detailed archives of magmatic evolution through time.

E. Bruand, M. Fowler, C. Storey O. Laurent, C. Antoine, M. Guitreau, E. Heilimo, O. Nebel

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2020) 13, 7–12 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2006 | Published 26 February 2020

Article views: 5103

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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: 59411

4.46 Ga zircons anchor chronology of lunar magma ocean

Abstract:
The crystallisation ages of lunar samples provide critical constraints on the minimum formation age of the Moon and its early evolution. Zircon crystals from Apollo 17 lunar impact melt breccia 72255 preserve ancient domains with a concordant average uranium-lead radiometric date of 4460 ± 31 Ma (Zhang et al., 2021), the oldest lunar zircon yet reported. To assess the possible mobility of radiogenic lead in zircon, which may lead to redistribution and clustering of Pb atoms that may cause a U-Pb age bias (Valley et al., 2014), we investigated a zircon grain from Zhang et al. (2021) by atom probe tomography (APT). The atomic spatial resolution analysis of individual mineral grains demonstrates the absence of nanoscale clustering of lead, which supports a 4.46 Ga ancient formation age for lunar zircon in sample 72255. This age pushes back the age of the first preserved lunar crust by ∼40 Myr and provides a minimum formation age for the Moon within 110 Myr after the formation of the solar system.

J. Greer, B. Zhang, D. Isheim, D.N. Seidman, A. Bouvier, P.R. Heck

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Geochem. Persp. Let. (2023) 27, 49–53 | doi: 10.7185/geochemlet.2334 | Published 23 October 2023

Article views: 40392

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: 37748

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: 31056

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: 28613

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: 27742

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: 27085

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: 27083

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: 25415

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: 25034