An evaluation of sedimentary molybdenum and iron as proxies for pore fluid paleoredox conditions

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2018-04
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Hardisty, Dalton S.
Lyons, Timothy W.
Riedinger, Natascha
Isson, Terry T.
Owens, Jeremy D.
Aller, Robert C.
Rye, Danny
Planavsky, Noah J.
Reinhard, Christopher T.
Gill, Benjamin C.
Masterson, Andrew L.
Asael, Dan
Johnston, David T.
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Abstract
Iron speciation and trace metal proxies are commonly applied together in efforts to identify anoxic settings marked by the presence of free sulfide (euxinia) or dissolved iron (ferruginous) in the water column. Here, we use a literature compilation from modern localities to provide a new empirical evaluation of coupled Fe speciation and Mo concentrations as a proxy for pore water sulfide accumulation at non-euxinic localities. We also present new Fe speciation, Mo concentration, and S isotope data from the Friends of Anoxic Mud (FOAM) site in Long Island Sound, which is marked by pore water sulfide accumulation of up to 3 mM beneath oxygen-containing bottom waters. For the operationally defined Fe speciation scheme, ‘highly reactive’ Fe (FeHR) is the sum of pyritized Fe (Fepy) and Fe dominantly present in oxide phases that is available to react with pore water sulfide to form pyrite. Observations from FOAM and elsewhere confirm that Fepy/FeHR from non-euxinic sites is a generally reliable indicator of pore fluid redox, particularly the presence of pore water sulfide. Molybdenum (Mo) concentration data for anoxic continental margin sediments underlying oxic waters but with sulfidic pore fluids typically show authigenic Mo enrichments (2-25 ppm) that are elevated relative to the upper crust (1-2 ppm). However, compilations of Mo concentrations comparing sediments with and without sulfidic pore fluids underlying oxic and low oxygen (non-euxinic) water columns expose non-unique ranges for each, exposing false positives and false negatives. False positives are most frequently found in sediments from low oxygen water columns (for example, Peru Margin), where Mo concentration ranges can also overlap with values commonly found in modern euxinic settings. FOAM represents an example of a false negative, where, despite elevated pore water sulfide concentrations and evidence for active Fe and Mn redox cycling in FOAM sediments, sedimentary Mo concentrations show a homogenous vertical profile across 50 cm depth at 1-2 ppm. A diagenetic model for Mo provides evidence that muted authigenic enrichments are derived from elevated sedimentation rates. Consideration of a range of additional parameters, most prominently pore water Mo concentration, can replicate the ranges of most sedimentary Mo concentrations observed in modern non-euxinic settings. Together, the modern Mo and Fe data compilations and diagenetic model provide a framework for identifying paleo-pore water sulfide accumulation in ancient settings and linked processes regulating seawater Mo and sulfate concentrations and delivery to sediments. Among other utilities, identifying ancient accumulation of sulfide in pore waters, particularly beneath oxic bottom waters, constrains the likelihood that those settings could have hosted organisms and ecosystems with thiotrophy at their foundations.
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Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2018. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here under a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license granted to WHOI. It is made available for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in American Journal of Science 318 (2018): 527-556, doi:10.2475/05.2018.04.
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