Oceanic Euxinia in Earth History: Causes and Consequences

Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences (Impact Factor: 8.58). 05/2008; 36(1):251-88. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.earth.36.031207.124256


Euxinic ocean conditions accompanied significant events in Earth history, including several Phanerozoic biotic crises. By critically ex-amining modern and ancient euxinic environments and the range of hypotheses for these sulfidic episodes, we elucidate the primary factors that influenced the generation of euxinia. We conclude that periods of global warmth promoted anoxia because of reduced sol-ubility of oxygen, not because of ocean stagnation. Anoxia led to phosphate release from sediments, and continental configurations with expansive nutrient-trapping regions focused nutrient recycling and increased regional nutrient buildup. This great nutrient supply would have fueled high biological productivity and oxygen demand, enhancing oxygen depletion and sulfide buildup via sulfate reduc-tion. As long as warm conditions prevailed, these positive feedbacks sustained euxinic conditions. In rare, extreme cases, euxinia led to biotic crises, a hypothesis best supported by evidence from the end-Permian mass extinction.

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Available from: Lee R. Kump, Jan 01, 2014
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    • "Please cite this article in press as: Lash, G.G., Pyritization induced by anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) e An example from the upper devonian shale succession, western New York, USA, Marine and Petroleum Geology (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2015.10.002 conditions under which marine deposits accumulated (Wilkin et al., 1996; Wignall and Newton, 1998; Meyer and Kump, 2008). Where possible, diameters of at least 100 framboids from each sample were measured. "
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    ABSTRACT: The diagenetic history of the Upper Devonian Rhinestreet Shale of the western New York region of the Appalachian basin appears to reflect the upward diffusion of methane through these deposits shortly after their accumulation. The most obvious diagenetic signature of this process is numerous horizons of authigenic calcium carbonate concretions interpreted to reflect mineralization induced by the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) focused along the sulfate-methane transition (SMT) zone. Additionally, a 2-m-thick section of the lower Rhinestreet preserves a diagenetic record consistent with AOM in the form of two pyritiferous stratigraphic horizons. The stratigraphically lowest horizon is a 2-cm-thick layer containing abundant 34 S-enriched (11.8 and 18.4‰ V-CDT) coarsely crystalline pyrite. The thinness of this interval suggests that AOM-related diagenesis remained fixed at this stratigraphic position for a brief period of time before these deposits were buried below the SMT or the SMT shifted position within the sediment column. A second paleo-SMT appears to have stabilized 60 to 80 cm above the 2-cm-thick pyritiferous horizon, meter-scale carbonate concretions being the most obvious evidence of this episode of AOM. More than this, though, the apparently Fe-limited nature of the host black shale induced the downward diffusion of 34 S-enriched hydrogen sulfide produced by AOM resulting in the precipitation of 34 S-enriched (23.1 to 27.3‰ V-CDT) pyrite below the SMT. The maximum depth of diffusion of the sulfidization front was limited by the amount of hydrogen sulfide produced within and near the SMT as well as by the availability of reactive iron in underlying deposits. The focusing of AOM-related diagenesis at the two stratigraphic positions was likely caused by non-steady-state sedimentation. However, it is impossible to decipher relative timing of formation of the two paleo-SMTs.
    Marine and Petroleum Geology 10/2015; article in press (online). DOI:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2015.10.002 · 2.64 Impact Factor
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    • "As a consequence, derivative proxies have been applied to reconstruct past ocean oxygenation. A characteristic feature of marine low-oxygen environments on various time scales are black, organic-rich, and laminated sediments (Kemp, 1996; Meyer and Kump, 2008). They are known to date back to the late Precambrian (Tucker, 1983). "
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    ABSTRACT: Present day oceans are well ventilated, with the exception of mid-depth oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) under high surface water productivity, regions of sluggish circulation , and restricted marginal basins. In the Mesozoic, however, entire oceanic basins transiently became dysoxic or anoxic. The Cretaceous ocean anoxic events (OAEs) were characterised by laminated organic-carbon rich shales and low-oxygen indicating trace fossils preserved in the sedimen-tary record. Yet assessments of the intensity and extent of Cretaceous near-bottom water oxygenation have been hampered by deep or long-term diagenesis and the evolution of marine biota serving as oxygen indicators in today's ocean. Sedimentary features similar to those found in Cretaceous strata were observed in deposits underlying Recent OMZs, where bottom-water oxygen levels, the flux of organic matter, and benthic life have been studied thoroughly. Their implications for constraining past bottom-water oxygenation are addressed in this review. We compared OMZ sediments from the Peruvian upwelling with deposits of the late Cenoma-nian OAE 2 from the northwest African shelf. Holocene laminated sediments are encountered at bottom-water oxygen levels of < 7 µmol kg −1 under the Peruvian upwelling and < 5 µmol kg −1 in California Borderland basins and the Pakistan Margin. Seasonal to decadal changes of sediment input are necessary to create laminae of different composition. However, bottom currents may shape similar textures that are difficult to discern from primary seasonal laminae. The millimetre-sized trace fossil Chondrites was commonly found in Cretaceous strata and Recent oxygen-depleted environments where its diameter increased with oxygen levels from 5 to 45 µmol kg −1. Chondrites has not been reported in Peruvian sediments but centimetre-sized crab burrows appeared around 10 µmol kg −1 , which may indicate a minimum oxygen value for bioturbated Cretaceous strata. Organic carbon accumulation rates ranged from 0.7 and 2.8 g C cm −2 kyr −1 in laminated OAE 2 sections in Tarfaya Basin, Morocco, matching late Holocene accumulation rates of laminated Peruvian sediments under Recent oxygen levels below 5 µmol kg −1. Sediments deposited at > 10 µmol kg −1 showed an inverse exponential relationship of bottom-water oxygen levels and organic carbon accumulation depicting enhanced bioirrigation and decomposition of organic matter with increased oxygen supply. In the absence of seasonal laminations and under conditions of low burial diage-nesis, this relationship may facilitate quantitative estimates of palaeo-oxygenation. Similarities and differences between Cretaceous OAEs and late Quaternary OMZs have to be further explored to improve our understanding of sedimentary systems under hypoxic conditions.
    Biogeosciences 02/2015; 12(4):1169-1189. DOI:10.5194/bg-12-1169-2015 · 3.98 Impact Factor
    • "for the occurrence of isorenieratane and PZE during the modeled time intervals (Meyer et al., 2008; Monteiro et al., 2012). However, the modeling results do not accommodate chlorobactene and okenone production because the wind mixed surface layer, which is typically set to the top 80–100 m in the models, remains oxygenated (Meyer et al., 2008; Ozaki et al., 2011; Monteiro et al., 2012). Setting shallower mixed layer depths in the models could potentially accommodate chlorobactene and okenone production in the modeled marine systems. "
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    ABSTRACT: A comprehensive marine biomarker record of green and purple sulfur bacteria (GSB and PSB, respectively) is required to test whether anoxygenic photosynthesis represented a greater fraction of marine primary productivity during the Precambrian than the Phanerozoic, as current models of ocean redox evolution suggest. For this purpose, we analyzed marine rock extracts and oils from the Proterozoic to the Paleogene for C40 diagenetic products of carotenoid pigments using new analytical methods. Gas chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry provides a new perspective on the temporal distributions of carotenoid biomarkers for phototrophic sulfur bacteria, specifically okenane, chlorobactane, and paleorenieratane. According to conventional paleoredox interpretations, this revised stratigraphic distribution of the GSB and PSB biomarkers implies that the shallow sunlit surface ocean (<24 m) became sulfidic more frequently in the geologic past than was previously thought. We reexamine whether there is evidence supporting a planktonic source of GSB and PSB pigments in marine systems or whether additional factors are required to explain the marine phototrophic sulfur bacteria record. To date, planktonic GSB and PSB and their pigments have been identified in restricted basins and lakes, but they have yet to be detected in the unrestricted, transiently sulfidic, marine systems. Based on modern observations, additional environmental factors, including basin restriction, microbial mats, or sediment transport, may be required to fully explain GSB and PSB carotenoids in the geologic record.
    Geobiology 01/2015; 13(2). DOI:10.1111/gbi.12126 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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