Facies-dependent δ 13 C variation and diagenetic overprinting at the onset of the Sturtian glaciation in North-East Greenland

R. M. Klaebe, M. P. Smith, I. J. Fairchild, E. J. Fleming, M. J. Kennedy

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Time-significant surfaces are used to construct a stratigraphic test of the intrabasinal reproducibility of a 16‰ Neoproterozoic carbon-isotope (δ13C) anomaly in the NE Greenland Caledonides. The δ13C excursion from +6‰ to −10‰ occurs in the carbonate-dominated Andrée Land Group and lies below glacial diamictites of the Tillite Group commonly correlated as Sturtian in age (∼720 Ma) and has been widely interpreted to record a global isotopic event reflecting a perturbation in the carbon cycle preceding the initiation of the snowball ice age. δ13C stratigraphic patterns were determined in two strike sections with relatively shallow platform deposits at Kap Weber and slope deposits on Ella Ø preserved directly below the first evidence for glaciation. The top and bottom of the δ13C profile was bounded by contiguous chronostratigraphic surfaces including an unconformity (sequence boundary) at the base recognisable in both sections and a subaerial exposure surface with a basinal correlative conformity at the top. The δ13C profile at Kap Weber shows δ13C values of +6‰ that drop to −8‰ in fine-grained slope deposits before returning to +6‰ in platform carbonates at the base of the glacial diamictite. The slope section on Ella Ø shows similar values for platformal carbonates of +6‰ with a similar drop to ∼−10‰ in slope deposits, but this section lacks the return to platform deposits evident at Kap Weber beneath the diamictite as well as a return to positive δ13C values. The absence of the platformal sediments and positive δ13C values on Ella Ø cannot be attributed to erosional truncation because the contact in this section shows a conformable, interbedded transition into the glacial deposits indicating that a continuous record is preserved. This disparity in δ13C values below the base of the Tillite Group suggests that the most negative δ13C values recorded in slope mudstone facies (−10‰) occur near synchronously with values of +6‰ on the platform. Elemental mapping of the mudstone facies indicates that carbonate is largely pore-filling and authigenic, representing a secondary phase that is unlikely to record a seawater value. Elevated δ13C values in shallow inner-ramp carbonate intervals may record locally modified seawater enriched in 13C by photosynthesis and evaporation. The excursion in δ13C values in the upper Andrée Land Group is therefore interpreted to result from a shift in facies from platform carbonates to carbonate cemented and diagenetically overprinted mudstone and does not record the secular change in seawater δ13C used for correlation or interpretation of biogeochemical events preceding the snowball ice age.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPrecambrian Research
Early online date13 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Dec 2017


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