Predominantly Ferruginous Conditions in South China during the Marinoan Glaciation: Insight from REE Geochemistry of the Syn-glacial Dolostone from the Nantuo Formation in Guizhou Province, China
The Neoproterozoic Era witnessed two low-latitude glaciations, which exerted a fundamental influence on ocean‒atmosphere redox conditions and biogeochemical cycling. Climate models and palaeobiological evidence support the belief that open waters provided oases for life that survived snowball Earth glaciations, yet independent geochemical evidence for marine redox conditions during the Marinoan glaciation remains scarce owing to the apparent lack of primary marine precipitates. In this study,
... s. In this study, we explore variability in rare earth elements (REEs) and trace metal concentrations in dolostone samples of the Cryogenian Nantuo Formation taken from a drill core in South China. Petrological evidence suggests that the dolostone in the Nantuo Formation was formed in near-shore waters. All the examined dolostone samples featured significant enrichment of manganese (345‒10,890 ppm, average 3488 ppm) and middle rare earth elements (MREEs) (Bell Shape Index: 1.43‒2.16, average 1.76) after being normalized to Post-Archean Australian Shale (PAAS). Most dolostone samples showed slight to no negative Ce anomalies (Ce*/Ce 0.53‒1.30, average 0.95), as well as positive Eu anomalies (Eu*/Eu 1.77‒3.28, average 1.95). This finding suggests that the dolostone samples were deposited from suboxic to iron-enriched and anoxic waters. Although total REE concentrations correlated positively with Th concentrations in dolostone samples, MREE-enriched PAAS-normalized patterns preclude the conclusion that REEs were largely introduced by terrestrial contamination. Rather, we interpret the correlation between REEs and Th as an indication that the former were transported by colloids and nanoparticles in meltwaters. Taken together, we propose that anoxic and ferruginous water columns dominated in South China during the Marinoan glaciation with a thin oxic/suboxic layer restricted to coastal waters. The extreme anoxic and ferruginous conditions prevailing in the Cryogenian would have provided a baseline for subsequent transient Ediacaran ocean oxygenation and life evolution.