Preservation of carbonate clumped isotopes in sedimentary paleoclimate archives

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 4:30 PM
Gregory A Henkes1, Benjamin H Passey1, Ethan L Grossman2, Brock Shenton2,3 and Alberto Perez-Huerta4, (1)Johns Hopkins University, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Baltimore, MD, United States, (2)Texas A & M University, Department of Geology and Geophysics, College Station, TX, United States, (3)ExxonMobil Houston, Exploration Company, Houston, TX, United States, (4)University of Alabama, Department of Geological Sciences, Tuscaloosa, AL, United States
Carbonate clumped isotope thermometry is increasingly used to reconstruct paleotemperatures of ancient terrestrial environments. One promising application is elucidating paleoelevation from carbonate archives such as paleosols, lacustrine marls, and fossil freshwater shells. Unlike conventional stable isotope approaches (e.g., mineral δ18O or δD), clumped isotope thermometry is independent of the isotopic composition of the precipitating waters and can therefore be used to reconstruct elevation by both the temperature-altitude relationship and the rainfall δ18O-altitude relationship. However, interpretation of clumped isotope data is not without its own complications. Like conventional stable isotopes, clumped isotope paleotemperatures can be effectively reset to warmer values by dissolution/reprecipitation-type diagenesis during sedimentary burial. It is also known that carbonate clumped isotope bonds (i.e., 13C-18O) are susceptible to ‘reordering’ in the solid mineral lattice at warmer burial temperatures, with laboratory studies of natural carbonates indicating activation of this phenomenon at temperatures as low as 100 °C over geologic timescales. A challenge in applying carbonate clumped isotope thermometry to natural samples is now evaluating terrestrial archives with respect to both types of alteration: ‘open-system’ alteration and ‘closed-system’ bond reordering. In this talk we will review our experimental efforts to constrain the kinetics of clumped isotope reordering, with relevance to low-temperature carbonates like fossil shells and early diagenetic minerals, and present new laboratory data that further inform our theoretical framework for the mechanism(s) of 13C-18O bond reordering. Together with traditional analytical and petrographic screening for recrystallization, empirical and laboratory studies of carbonate clumped isotope reordering represent the next steps in evaluating isotopic records of paleoclimate, paleobiology, and paleoelevation that are emerging from clumped isotope analyses.