GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 144-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM


PODRECCA, Luca1, HURTGEN, Matthew T.1, MASTERSON, Andrew L.1, TODES, Jordan2 and SAGEMAN, Brad1, (1)Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Rd, Evanston, IL 60208, (2)Department of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637

The sulfur (S) isotope composition of marine rocks, archived in reservoirs of sedimentary pyrite and gypsum/anhydrite, is a primary tool for reconstructing the oxygenation history of Earth’s surface. This proxy is based on the premise that variability in fractionation (δ34SSO4 - δ34Spy) is broadly a function of marine sulfate concentrations [SO42-]. However, recent studies reinvigorated an older hypothesis: that the local δ34Spyr record might be heavily influenced by environmental and depositional conditions (i.e., sedimentation rate). One key test of this hypothesis would be measurements in an onshore-offshore transect. In this study, we measure δ34Spy at three sites from the mid-Cretaceous Western Interior Basin (WIB) of North America. The geometry of the broad and shallow seaway provides sedimentary records especially sensitive to changes in relative sea level (RSL), interpreted to preserve the rhythmic tempo of Milankovitch cycles. Because these deposits include datable volcanic ash layers, a floating astronomical time scale, established through spectral analysis of the orbital signal, is anchored by in situ radioisotopic ages, thus facilitating a high-resolution reconstruction of sedimentation rates.

Our current δ34Spy dataset indicates a strong positive relationship between δ34S and sedimentation rate associated with RSL change: we observe a >30‰ change between RSL highs and lows at the most proximal site in our onshore-offshore transect. This suggests that high RSL, associated with a decrease in local sedimentation rates, allows microbial sulfate reduction and attendant S-isotope fractionation to more closely approach theoretical limits (~60‰). Alternatively, as RSL drops, enhanced transport of sediment from the continent increases local sedimentation rates, interfering with the connection between pore waters and the overlying seawater sulfate reservoir, and resulting in reservoir effects and progressively heavier δ34Spy values. The strength of the correlation between sedimentation and δ34S decreases basinward, as changes in sedimentation rates between RSL highs and lows diminish. We are investigating other local changes in depositional environment (total organic carbon content, weight percent pyrite, and changes in reactive iron availability) to further delineate controls on the δ34Spy record.