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Journal Article

Quaternary phosphorites off the southeast coast of India


Naqvi,  S. W. A.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;


Böttcher,  M. E.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Rao, V. P., Michard, A., Naqvi, S. W. A., Böttcher, M. E., Krishnaswamy, R., Thamban, A., et al. (2002). Quaternary phosphorites off the southeast coast of India. Chemical Geology, 182(2-4), 483-502.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-D331-9
Detailed petrological, mineralogical, geochemical and radiogenic (U, Sr, Nd) and stable isotope (C, 0, S) studies have been carried out on the Quaternary phosphorites of the continental margin off Chennai, southeast coast of India. These phosphorites are formed as a result of trapping and binding of sediments by microbial mats and are similar to phosphate stratiform stromatolites. Detrital and biogenic constituents enclosed in the phosphorites controlled the major and minor element composition. Except for Sr and U, the concentrations of most of the trace metals are lower than those in average shale and phosphorite. Middle rare earth element (MREE)-enriched patterns are the characteristic feature. The U-Th dating method indicates that the ages of the phosphorites are beyond 300,000 years. Sr-87/Sr-86 ratios of the phosphorites are higher than that of present-day seawater and epsilonNd values are more negative than those of seawater of the Atlantic Ocean. Carbon isotope ratios are within the range expected for the oxic/suboxic zone but sulfur isotope ratios indicate suboxic conditions during phosphorite formation. These results imply that the benthic microbial mats thrived on the shallow shelf during the Quaternary low sea level conditions. Periodic or episodic sedimentation onto the mats led to their death. The bacteria associated with decaying microbial mats utilised phosphorus supplied by continental sources and rapidly precipitated phosphate. The availability of a high percentage of phosphorus in seawater seems to be an important controlling factor for the formation of phosphate stromatolites. The composition of these phosphorites differs from the modem phosphorites in upwelling regions, but are similar to Cambrian apatite stromatolites. These phosphorites provide evidence that the replicates of ancient phosphate stromatolites do exist in the Quaternary. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.