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Journal Article

Cd isotopes trace periodic (bio)geochemical metal cycling at the verge of the Cambrian animal evolution


Galer,  Stephen J. G.
Climate Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Hohl V, S., Jiang, S.-Y., Wei, Z., Pi, D.-H., Liu, Q., Viehmann, S., et al. (2019). Cd isotopes trace periodic (bio)geochemical metal cycling at the verge of the Cambrian animal evolution. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 263, 195-214. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2019.07.036.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-CD99-9
Cadmium (Cd) isotopes are an emerging proxy for biological controlled metal and nutrient cycling in the modern oceans, but its potential as a geochemical proxy in ancient environments is still uncertain yet. Sequential leaching experiments of organic matter (OM)-rich shales from the early Cambrian Niutitang Formation (Fm.) were performed in order to understand the cycling of bioessential metals short after the Cambrian animal evolution.

Carbonate, OM, sulphide and silicate leachates of OM-rich shales show an overall Cd isotope variation of 6 ε112Cd/110Cd (ε112Cd) units, indicating preferential incorporation of light Cd isotopes in the order sulphide > OM > carbonate > silicate. Carbonate leachates not only show negative correlations of ε112Cd with bulk-rock total organic carbon (TOC) and δ13Corg but also show co-variations with redox-sensitive elements and bioessential metal concentrations, indicating a combined redox and primary productivity evolution of the early Cambrian Nanhua Basin on the Yangtze. Together with increased Cd/Zn ratios and decreasing total organic carbon (TOC) and redox-sensitive elements (RSE) concentrations in the upper Niutitang, this argues for an increase in essential metal availability for primary producers. Coinciding with the transition from a highly unstable ecosystem shortly after the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary to a more habitable environment increased nutrient uptake, oxygen availability and enhanced dissolved organic carbon (DOC) recycling match with the diversification of early metazoan fossil findings at the studied local. Our findings demonstrate that Cd isotopes in combination with trace metals can be used to infer changes in biogeochemical metal cycling in paleoenvironments and further allow establishing Cd isotope systematics as a reliable paleoproductivity proxy in the search for Earth’s earliest phototrophic life.