Links of organic carbon cycling and burial to depositional depth gradients and establishment of a snowball Earth at 2.3Ga. Evidence from the Timeball Hill Formation, Transvaal Supergroup, South Africa

L. L. Coetzee, Nicolas J. Beukes, Jens Gutzmer, Takeshi Kakegawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Closely spaced samples of carbonaceous shales and siltstones from two upwards coarsening deltaic parasequences of the early paleoproterozic Timeball Hill Formation of the Pretoria Group, Transvaal Supergroup were analysed for their organic carbon content and isotopic composition. We illustrate that trends in the organ carbon isotopic signature are closely linked to changes in the depositional environment and also to variations in climate. Systematic trends displayed by organic carbon isotope values suggest that a biosynthetic chain transporting organic carbon from the oxygen-rich surface water to anoxic deep water was already present in the early Paleoproterozoic Ocean. Just as in modern deltaic environments, aerobic degradation of organic matter occured in the shallow water and recycling of organic matter in the deeper water led to the presevation of isotopically light organic carbon. Sampling in a sequence stratigraphic framework also reveals that over time, the preserved organic matter became more13 C enriched. This trend may be linked to a global decrease in atmospheric CO2 which eventually led to a major ice-age that is recorded by glacial diamictite capping the Timeball Hill Formation. The results confirm that in order to reach a better understanding of organic carbon cycling in the Precambrian, sedimentary facies, depositional environmet and post-depositional modifications of carbon isotopic values must be taken into account.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-122
Number of pages14
JournalSouth African Journal of Geology
Volume109
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jun 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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