CaltechAUTHORS
  A Caltech Library Service

Long-term sedimentary recycling of rare sulphur isotope anomalies

Reinhard, Christopher T. and Planavsky, Noah J. and Lyons, Timothy W. (2013) Long-term sedimentary recycling of rare sulphur isotope anomalies. Nature, 497 (7447). pp. 100-103. ISSN 0028-0836. https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20130712-105357537

[img]
Preview
PDF - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.

809Kb

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item: https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20130712-105357537

Abstract

The accumulation of substantial quantities of O_2 in the atmosphere has come to control the chemistry and ecological structure of Earth’s surface. Non-mass-dependent (NMD) sulphur isotope anomalies in the rock record are the central tool used to reconstruct the redox history of the early atmosphere. The generation and initial delivery of these anomalies to marine sediments requires low partial pressures of atmospheric O_2 (PO_2; refs 2, 3), and the disappearance of NMD anomalies from the rock record 2.32 billion years ago is thought to have signalled a departure from persistently low atmospheric oxygen levels (less than about 10^(−5) times the present atmospheric level) during approximately the first two billion years of Earth’s history. Here we present a model study designed to describe the long-term surface recycling of crustal NMD anomalies, and show that the record of this geochemical signal is likely to display a ‘crustal memory effect’ following increases in atmospheric PO_2 above this threshold. Once NMD anomalies have been buried in the upper crust they are extremely resistant to removal, and can be erased only through successive cycles of weathering, dilution and burial on an oxygenated Earth surface. This recycling results in the residual incorporation of NMD anomalies into the sedimentary record long after synchronous atmospheric generation of the isotopic signal has ceased, with dynamic and measurable signals probably surviving for as long as 10–100 million years subsequent to an increase in atmospheric PO_2 to more than 10^(−5) times the present atmospheric level. Our results can reconcile geochemical evidence for oxygen production and transient accumulation with the maintenance of NMD anomalies on the early Earth, and suggest that future work should investigate the notion that temporally continuous generation of new NMD sulphur isotope anomalies in the atmosphere was likely to have ceased long before their ultimate disappearance from the rock record.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12021 DOIArticle
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v497/n7447/full/nature12021.htmlPublisherArticle
http://rdcu.be/cm4kPublisherFree ReadCube access
ORCID:
AuthorORCID
Reinhard, Christopher T.0000-0002-2632-1027
Additional Information:© 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 08 August 2012; Accepted 19 February 2013; Published online 24 April 2013. C.T.R. and N.J.P. designed the model. C.T.R. compiled the sulphur isotope database and performed the modelling and statistical analyses. C.T.R. and N.J.P. wrote the manuscript, with contributions from T.W.L. Funding from NSF-EAR and the NASA Exobiology Program supported this research. C.T.R. acknowledges support from an O. K. Earl Postdoctoral Fellowship in Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology. N.J.P. acknowledges support from NSF-EAR-PDF. Comments and criticism from L. Kump, B. Wing, A. Bekker and K. Konhauser greatly improved the manuscript. Author Contributions: C.T.R. and N.J.P. designed the model. C.T.R. compiled the sulphur isotope database and performed the modelling and statistical analyses. C.T.R. and N.J.P. wrote the manuscript, with contributions from T.W.L.
Funders:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSFUNSPECIFIED
NASAUNSPECIFIED
Caltech O.K. Earl Postdoctoral FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:7447
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130712-105357537
Persistent URL:https://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20130712-105357537
Official Citation:Reinhard, C. T., Planavsky, N. J., & Lyons, T. W. (2013). Long-term sedimentary recycling of rare sulphur isotope anomalies. [Letter]. Nature, 497(7447), 100-103. doi: 10.1038/nature12021
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39341
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Jul 2013 22:05
Last Modified:09 Mar 2020 13:19

Repository Staff Only: item control page