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Co-variation systematics of uranium and molybdenum isotopes reveal pathways for descent into euxinia in Mediterranean sapropels
Chiu, C.F.; Sweere, T.C.; Clarkson, M.O.; de Souza, G.F.; Hennekam, R.; Vance, D. (2022). Co-variation systematics of uranium and molybdenum isotopes reveal pathways for descent into euxinia in Mediterranean sapropels. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 585: 117527.
In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0012-821X; e-ISSN 1385-013X, meer
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    redox; molybdenum isotopes; uranium isotopes; sapropels; Eastern Mediterranean

Auteurs  Top 
  • Chiu, C.F.
  • Sweere, T.C.
  • Clarkson, M.O.
  • de Souza, G.F.
  • Hennekam, R., meer
  • Vance, D.


    The elemental concentrations and isotope compositions of molybdenum (Mo) and uranium (U) are commonly used for the reconstruction of past global and local redox conditions, and recent studies using both elements have revealed the potential of their paired application. However, such studies have generally focused either on modern marine sediments or on relatively low-resolution reconstructions of deep-time paleo-redox conditions. Here, we present high-resolution profiles (every 0.2-0.3 kyr) of Mo and U elemental and isotope compositions for anoxic organic-rich sediments of Eastern Mediterranean sapropels S5 and S7. The new Mo-U data reveal the processes leading to descent into basinal euxinia in more precise and systematic detail than lower resolution datasets focused on either Mo or U only.

    During the intensification from anoxic non-sulfidic to persistently euxinic conditions, δ98Mo and δ238U covariation systematics exhibit two stages. We identify the Mo-U isotope signature of the early transition from anoxic non-sulfidic to mildly euxinic conditions in the first stage, characterized by a rise in U isotope ratios (from −0.3‰ to +0.2‰ ±0.05‰) controlled by the depth within the sediment of the uranium reduction-accumulation front. As the water column turns persistently euxinic, δ98Mo values approach the seawater value for both sapropels, but δ238U evolves to different final values in the two sapropels. We interpret these differences as reflecting different redox potentials and/or different degrees of restriction of these two sapropel events, and the more gradual response of U sequestration to redox variation in comparison with threshold behavior of Mo. The findings presented here show temporal patterns in δ98Mo and δ238U on relatively short timescales that suggest the combined use of these proxies at high resolution allows detailed reconstruction of local redox and hydrographic conditions.

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