Claypool continued: Extending the isotopic record of sedimentary sulfate

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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. The Proterozoic Eon spans Earth's middle age during which many important transitions occurred. These transitions include the oxygenation of the atmosphere, emergence of eukaryotic organisms and growth of continents. Since the sulfur and oxygen cycles are intricately linked to most surface biogeochemical processes, these transitions should be recorded in changes to the isotopic composition of marine and terrestrial sulfate minerals. Here we present oxygen (∆ 17 O, δ 18 O) and sulfur (∆ 33 S, δ 34 S) isotope records of Proterozoic sulfate from currently available data together with new measurements of 313 samples from 33 different formations bearing Earth's earliest unambiguous evaporites at 2.4 Ga through to Ediacaran aged deposits. This record depicts distinct intervals with respect to the expression of sulfate isotopes that are not completely captured by established intervals in the geologic timescale. The most salient pattern is the muted ∆ 17 O signatures across the GOE, late Proterozoic and Ediacaran with values that are only slightly more negative than modern marine sulfate, contrasting with highly negative values across the mid-Proterozoic and Cryogenian. We combine these results with estimates of atmospheric composition to produce a gross primary production (GPP) curve for the Proterozoic. Through these results we argue that changes in GPP across Earth history likely help account for many of the changes in the Proterozoic Earth surface environment such as rising atmospheric oxygen, large fluctuations in the size of the marine sulfate reservoir and variations in the isotopic composition of sedimentary sulfate.

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Chemical Geology

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