Influence of Chemically Enhanced Diffusion on Cap Dolostones?

Friday, 19 December 2014
Thomas Bristow, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, United States
Cap dolostones, a globally distributed layer of carbonate rock that sits directly on terminal glacial deposits of the severe Cryogenian ice-age, contain important records of the conditions during the early stage of climatic recovery. Negative carbon isotope signals preserved in the cap are central to discussions of the mechanisms, drivers and time-scale of this interval of extreme climate change. These signals have been attributed to the rapid rise in temperature and acidic ocean conditions predicted to result from huge amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, which bumped the Earth out of the Snowball state. Questions remain however, because detailed investigations of cap dolostone isotopic variability within individual sedimentary basins show systematic variations that are difficult to explain by temperature effects alone. Furthermore, other influences on cap isotopes have been hypothesized including, the release of massive amounts of methane trapped by the ice and upwelling of deep ocean water with negative signals.

This contribution will explore the potential impact of chemically enhanced diffusion (CED) on the carbon isotopic compositions of cap dolostones using a box model. CED is a process by which CO2 gas is transferred to solution via reaction with hydroxide anions. In the modern ocean, rates of CED are thought to be insignificant and CO2 gas transfer is accomplished primarily by diffusion and dissolution, with minimal isotopic fraction. However, in various highly productive lakes, the strong negative isotope fraction of -27 ‰ associated CED impacts the isotopic composition of dissolved inorganic carbon. Post-glacial oceans may have been chemically similar to highly productive lakes and initial modeling results indicate that CED could have influenced the carbon isotopic composition of seawater and thus the cap dolostone. Implications for post-glacial oceanic conditions will be discussed.