The Application of 238U/235U as a Redox-Proxy for Past Ocean Chemistry

Friday, 19 December 2014
Morten Bugge Andersen1, Stephane Westermann1, Anelize Bahniuk2, Crisogono Vasconcelos1, Judith A. McKenzie1, Karl Bastiaan Föllmi3 and Derek Vance4, (1)ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, (2)Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil, (3)University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, (4)ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, ETH Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland
The recent discovery of significant variation in 238U/235U caused by redox change at the surface Earth has led to its use to extract information on the oxygenation state of ancient oceans from marine sediments [e.g. 1]. Recent studies have focused on improving the understanding of the 238U/235U signature in modern marine carbonates [2] and black shales [3] to improve the robustness of this tracer. To further advance its use we have focused on improving our understanding of 238U/235U systematics in modern dolomite, another commonly occurring rock-type in the geological record, before turning to 238U/235U signatures in ancient sediments.

The measured dolomite samples, precipitated in modern environments of coastal hypersaline lagoons in Brazil, all exhibit 238U/235U values that deviate from the seawater composition [3]. Observed values are both lighter (ca. 130 ppm; as also observed in dolomite from tidal-ponds on Bahamas [2]) and heavier (50-180 ppm). These distinct 238U/235U values for different dolomite-precipitates likely attest to the particular formation style, as well as early diagenetic processes. We use such modern settings to discuss the utility of 238U/235U in ancient sediments, the singularity of any observed 238U/235U signal, its relation to global ocean chemistry and potential diagenetic overprinting. These constraints are then used to evaluate a well-preserved marine carbonate section [4] and published black shale 238U/235U data [1], both deposited during the Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (93 Ma). We discuss the capabilities of both the carbonate and black shale section for retaining information on the 238U/235U composition in the ocean during OAE 2.

[1] Montoya-Pino et al. (2010) Geology, 38, 315-318 [2] Romaniello et al. (2013) 362, 305-316 [3] Andersen et al. (2014) EPSL, 400, 184-194 [4] Westermann et al. (2010) Cret. Res., 31, 500-514