Carbon associated nitrate (CAN) in the Ediacaran Johnnie Formation, Death Valley, California and links to the Shuram negative carbon isotope excursion
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Nitrogen, a major nutrient of marine primary production whose many redox states are linked through biological processes to O2, may afford better understanding of changes in post-Great Oxidation Event (GOE) environmental redox conditions. Using a novel approach to quantify nitrate content in carbonates, we identified a trend of CAN increase in the late-Proterozoic, including several distinct peaks within a carbonate succession of the Sonora province, Mexico, deposited ~630-500 Ma. The goal of the current study was to investigate CAN variability in the context of the global “Shuram” event, a large negative δ13C excursion expressed in Rainstorm member carbonates of the Johnnie Formation in Death Valley, CA. The lower Rainstorm Member “Johnnie Oolite”, a time-transgressive, regionally extensive, shallow dolomitic oolite, was sampled. CAN concentrations ranged from 7.31 to 127.36 nmol/g, with higher values measured toward the base of the bed. This trend held at each sampled locality, along with a tendency towards decreasing CAN with larger magnitude negative δ13C excursions. Modern analog ooids formed in low-latitude marine environments lack CAN, consistent with their formation in low-nitrate waters of the euphotic zone characteristic of the modern ocean nitrogen cycling. In contrast, maximum values within the Johnnie oolite exceed by a factor of five to seven CAN measured in carbonates deposited below the main nitracline in the modern ocean, implying high nitrate content within shallow depositional environments. Johnnie oolite data, broadly consistent with the Sonora sequence findings, may indicate large perturbations in the Ediacaran nitrogen cycle immediately preceding the negative δ13C excursion. The implication of these findings for possible changes in the Ediacaran nitrogen, oxygen and carbon biogeochemical cycling will be further discussed.