In order to investigate the geochemical responses of Earth's oceans and atmosphere after a Snowball glaciation, we studied an Ediacaran cap carbonate profile pertaining to the base of the Bambuí Group (Sete Lagoas Formation) in the central portion of the São Francisco basin, east central Brazil, for trace elements (including REE + Y) and C, O, Sr, Nd, Pb and Cr isotopes. The section can be divided in three portions, from bottom to top: (i) a two-meter thick cap dolostone preserving a drop of δ13C values from −3.8 to −4.2‰, overlain by (ii) a ca. 123 meters-thick, reddish limestone rhythmite deposited in a tidal flat, with an important isotopic shift observed at 60 m, with δ13C values below averaging −5‰ and above shifting abruptly to around −0.5‰; and (iii) a topmost ca. 2 meters thick black calcarenite with positive δ13C (+0.9‰) and 87Sr/86Sr = 0.7076. A new, tightly constrained Pb-Pb whole rock isochron of 608 ± 19 Ma provides additional support for deposition during the early Ediacaran. We put forward a model for the deposition of the Sete Lagoas cap carbonate which starts with the glacial aftermath, when the thin cap dolostone and the basal reddish limestone were deposited due to glacier melting and subsequent sea level rise, with important mixing of glacial meltwaters with anoxic bottom waters. A decreasing trend of εNd(630Ma) values, from −6 at the base to ca. −8 at the 60 meters-mark, indicates continued input of continentally-derived detrital particles to the basin. During this phase, intermittent subaerial exposure was responsible for meteoric diagenetic alteration, which shifted 87Sr/86Sr to higher values (>0.710) and δ18O towards lower values. Towards the top of the sequence, the late postglacial succession is marked by marine-like REE + Y (Y/Ho = ca. 46) and lower Al and Mn contents, reflecting the diminishing of glacial meltwater input, a renewed sea level rise, and a change to more distal depositional environments, away from the coastal lines. At this moment, a vigorous input of U(VI) and 53Cr-rich Cr(VI), reflecting in a sharp rise of U/Th ratios and positive δ53Cr, suggests that fully oxygenated conditions finally predominated in post-glacial surface waters in the middle to late Ediacaran. Our results add to a growing body of data for other Ediacaran cap carbonate sequences around the world (e.g. Otavi Group, Namibia and Doushantuo Formation, China) that suggest that after ca 1 Ga of anoxia (the “Boring Billion”) following the first Great Oxygenation Event, the oceans became increasingly oxygenated after the end of the Marinoan glaciation ca. 635 Ma ago, ultimately leading to the explosion of complex macroscopic life that followed this Neoproterozoic Oxygenation Event.
Chemical Geology – Elsevier
Published: Mar 20, 2018
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