Molybdenum Isotope Constraints on the Origin of Vanadium Hyper-Enrichments in Ediacaran–Phanerozoic Marine Mudrocks
Vanadium is an important redox-sensitive trace metal for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Modern organic-rich sediments persistently contain sediment V enrichments <500 μg/g, but many ancient marine organic-rich mudrocks record enrichments >500 μg/g. Previous studies propose that ancient V enrichments of these magnitudes ("V hyper-enrichments") were deposited from hyper-sulfidic bottom-waters with higher H2S levels (≥10 mM) than observed in modern euxinic basins. To test the importance of
... he importance of hyper-sulfidic conditions for generating V hyper-enrichments, we compare V concentrations with Mo isotope (δ98Mo) compositions from mudrock samples ranging in age from Ediacaran to Pleistocene. In the modern ocean, sediments deposited from strongly euxinic bottom waters ([H2S]aq > 11 μM) closely record global seawater δ98Mo because conversion of molybdate to tri- and tetra-thiomolybdate is quantitative. By contrast, large Mo isotope fractionations occur during Mo adsorption to Fe-Mn particulates or because of incomplete formation of the most sulfidic thiomolybdates in weakly euxinic settings ([H2S]aq < 11 μM), which both favor removal of lighter-mass Mo isotopes to sediments. We find multiple examples when mudrocks with V hyper-enrichments are associated with a wide range of δ98Mo for a single time interval, including values at or below oceanic input δ98Mo (0.3–0.7‰). This observation suggests significant isotopic offset from reasonable seawater values (typically ≥1.0‰). Thus, we conclude that hyper-sulfidic conditions were not responsible for many V hyper-enrichments in Ediacaran–Phanerozoic mudrocks. Instead, sediment V hyper-enrichments can be explained by high Fe-Mn particulate fluxes to weakly euxinic sediments or by moderately restricted euxinic settings with strongly euxinic ([H2S]aq > 11 μM but not necessarily > 10 mM) or weakly euxinic (with slow clastic sedimentation rates and high organic carbon fluxes) bottom waters where vigorous water exchange provides a continuous V supply from the open ocean.