Anomalous negative excursion of carbon isotope in organic carbon after the last Paleoproterozoic glaciation in North America

Yasuhito Sekine, Eiichi Tajika, Naohiko Ohkouchi, Nanako O. Ogawa, Kazuhisa Goto, Ryuji Tada, Shinji Yamamoto, Joseph L. Kirschvink

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Early Paleoproterozoic time (2.5-2.0 Ga) spanned a critical phase in Earth's history, characterized by repeated glaciations and an increase in atmospheric oxygen (the Great Oxidation Event (GOE)). Following the last and most intense glaciation of this period, marine carbonates record a large positive excursion of δ13C value (termed the "Lomagundi event") between about 2.2 and 2.1 Ga coinciding with the global appearances of red beds and sulfates, which suggest an accumulation of high levels of atmospheric oxygen. Here we report the discovery of large negative excursions of δ13C in organic matter (down to -55‰) from quartzose sandstones (of the Marquette Range and the Huronian Supergroups, North America) intermediate in age between the last Paleoproterozoic glaciation and the possible onset of the Lomagundi event. The negative excursion is concomitant with the appearance of intensely weathered quartzose sandstones, which may represent hot and humid conditions. There are some interpretations that potentially explain the negative excursions: (1) redeposition of older 13C-depleted kerogen, (2) later post-depositional infiltration of oil, (3) active methane productions by methanogens in shallow-marine environments, or (4) dissociation of methane hydrate. If the latter two were the case, they would provide clues for understanding the environmental change connecting the intense glaciation and an increase in oxygen.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberQ08019
    JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2010 Aug 1


    • Great Oxidation Event
    • Paleoproterozoic
    • atmospheric evolution
    • carbon isotope
    • climate change
    • glaciation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geophysics
    • Geochemistry and Petrology


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