Thallium isotopes in early diagenetic pyrite – a paleoredox proxy?

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Nielsen, Sune G.
Goff, Matt
Hesselbo, Stephen P.
Jenkyns, Hugh C.
LaRowe, Douglas E.
Lee, Cin-Ty A.
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This paper presents the first study of Tl isotopes in early diagenetic pyrite. Measurements from two sections deposited during the Toarcian Ocean Anoxic Event (T-OAE, ~183Ma) are compared with data from Late Neogene (<10Ma) pyrite samples from ODP legs 165 and 167 that were deposited in relatively oxic marine environments. The Tl isotope compositions of Late Neogene pyrites are all significantly heavier than seawater, which most likely indicates that Tl in diagenetic pyrite is partially sourced from ferromanganese oxy-hydroxides that are known to display relatively heavy Tl isotope signatures. One of the T-OAE sections from Peniche in Portugal displays pyrite thallium isotope compositions indistinguishable from Late Neogene samples, whereas samples from Yorkshire in the UK are depleted in the heavy isotope of Tl. These lighter compositions are best explained by the lack of ferromanganese precipitation at the sediment–water interface due the sulphidic (euxinic) conditions thought to be prevalent in the Cleveland Basin where the Yorkshire section was deposited. The heavier signatures in the Peniche samples appear to result from an oxic water column that enabled precipitation of ferromanganese oxy-hydroxides at the sediment–water interface. The Tl isotope profile from Yorkshire is also compared with previously published molybdenum isotope ratios determined on the same sedimentary succession. There is a suggestion of an anti-correlation between these two isotope systems, which is consistent with the expected isotope shifts that occur in seawater when marine oxic (ferromanganese minerals) fluxes fluctuate. The results outlined here represent the first evidence that Tl isotopes in early diagenetic pyrite have potential to reveal variations in past ocean oxygenation on a local scale and potentially also for global oceans. However, much more information about Tl isotopes in different marine environments, especially in anoxic/euxinic basins, is needed before Tl isotopes can be confidently utilized as a paleo-redox tracer.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75 (2011): 6690-6704, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2011.07.047.
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