Testing Urey's carbonate–silicate cycle using the calcium isotopic composition of sedimentary carbonates

Clara L. Blättler, John Andrew Higgins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Carbonate minerals constitute a major component of the sedimentary geological record and an archive of a fraction of the carbon and calcium cycled through the Earth's surface reservoirs for over three billion years. For calcium, carbonate minerals constitute the ultimate sink for almost all calcium liberated during continental and submarine weathering of silicate minerals. This study presents >500 stable isotope ratios of calcium in Precambrian carbonate sediments, both limestones and dolomites, in an attempt to characterize the isotope mass balance of the sedimentary carbonate reservoir through time. The mean of the dataset is indistinguishable from estimates of the calcium isotope ratio of bulk silicate Earth, consistent with the Urey cycle being the dominant mechanism exchanging calcium among surface reservoirs. The variability in bulk sediment calcium isotope ratios within each geological unit does not reflect changes in the global calcium cycle, but rather highlights the importance of local mineralogical and/or diagenetic effects in the carbonate record. This dataset demonstrates the potential for calcium isotope ratios to help assess these local effects, such as the former presence of aragonite, even in rocks with a history of neomorphism and recrystallization. Additionally, 29 calcium isotope measurements are presented from ODP (Ocean Drilling Program) Site 801 that contribute to the characterization of altered oceanic crust as an additional sink for calcium, and whose distinct isotopic signature places a limit on the importance of this subduction flux over Earth history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-251
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume479
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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