The Ordovician Period (489 to 443 Ma) is marked by a transition from a warm, greenhouse climate to an icehouse by the Late Ordovician, making it a valuable case study for the question of how various, interconnected Earth systems drive and respond to global climate change. In service of this larger question, this study focuses on the role of one such system: silicate weathering. Silicate weathering draws down and sequesters atmospheric carbon, and younger basalts draw down CO2
at a higher rate than older granites. An increased rate of basaltic weathering in the geologic past can be traced by a correlating decrease in the value of a well-established proxy: strontium isotope ratios (87
Sr). In the case of the Ordovician, global 87
Sr decreases gradually over the course of ~20-30 My of the Middle to Late Ordovician, before the rate of change increases and 87
Sr begins to drop sharply in the early part of the Late Ordovician (Sandbian). The precise timing of this inflection point has not been well constrained, making it difficult to ascertain its potential causes and effects. This study represents a renewed effort to increase the resolution of 87
Sr data derived from conodont apatite.
87Sr/86Sr measurements of conodont samples from strata of the Simpson Group in the Arbuckle Mountains, Oklahoma build on previously published measurements from this locality (Saltzman et al., 2014, GSA Bulletin, v. 126). Use of a new ThermoFisher Triton Plus TIMS at Ohio State provides a lower external error (2SD=8.22×10-6, n=96) than previous work. In addition, we investigate the impact of samples’ pre-treatment by leaching conodonts in acetic acid, which some previous authors indicate removes diagenetic Sr.
Results place the point of greatest 87Sr/86Sr change in the lower Bromide Formation and ~458 Mya. This age is consistent with the interpretation that the inflection point represents a shift in the nature of the Taconic orogeny occurring on the eastern margin of Laurentia. Additional 87Sr/86Sr data from other sites will be collected to confirm this age of the inflection point.