© 2016 Elsevier B.V. The Ediacaran Period witnessed one of the largest phosphogenic events in Earth's history. Coincidently, some phosphorite deposits in South China are associated with the largest-known carbon isotope negative excursion (i.e., Shuram Excursion), suggesting an intimate coupling of the biogeochemical carbon and phosphorous cycles. However, the geomicrobiological linkage between these anomalies remain poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the phosphorite samples from the uppermost Doushantuo Formation in South China. Carbon isotope compositions of authigenic calcite cements and nodules in the phosphorites are as low as –34‰ (VPDB). Petrographic and geochemical investigations indicate that the 13C-depleted carbonates likely formed as the result of microbial sulfate and iron reduction that released phosphorous from iron oxyhydroxide, concentrating phosphorous in pore waters, and thereby promoting phosphate mineralization. The timing of this event appears to coincide with enhanced sulfate delivery to seawater through continental weathering. The basin-scale distribution of Doushantuo phosphorites suggests a redox control on the availability of iron oxyhydroxide and the recycling of pore water phosphorous. Both inner and outer shelf regions were likely characterized by an oxic water column, and were the main loci for phosphogenesis; on the contrary, intra-shelf and slope regions, which are lean in phosphorite, were subjected to euxinic or ferruginous water column conditions. The intimate coupling between Ediacaran phosphogenesis and the Shuram Excursion suggests strong links among seawater redox conditions, C-S-P-Fe cycling, and fossil phosphatization. Increased microbial sulfate reduction driven by enhanced sulfate reservoir in the Ediacaran ocean may have played an essential role on these biogeochemical events.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Cui, H., Xiao, S., Zhou, C., Peng, Y., Kaufman, A., & Plummer, R. (2016). Phosphogenesis associated with the Shuram Excursion: Petrographic and geochemical observations from the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation of South China. Sedimentary Geology, 341, 134-146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sedgeo.2016.05.008