The onset of widespread marine red beds and the evolution of ferruginous oceans
Banded iron formations were a prevalent feature of marine sedimentation ~3.8-1.8 billion years ago and they provide key evidence for ferruginous oceans. The disappearance of banded iron formations at ~1.8 billion years ago was traditionally taken as evidence for the demise of ferruginous oceans, but recent geochemical studies show that ferruginous conditions persisted throughout the later Precambrian, and were even a feature of Phanerozoic ocean anoxic events. Here, to reconcile these observations, we track the evolution of oceanic Fe-concentrations by considering the temporal record of banded iron formations and marine red beds. We find that marine red beds are a prominent feature of the sedimentary record since the middle Ediacaran (~580 million years ago). Geochemical analyses and thermodynamic modelling reveal that marine red beds formed when deep-ocean Fe-concentrations were > 4 nM. By contrast, banded iron formations formed when Fe-concentrations were much higher (> 50 μM). Thus, the first widespread development of marine red beds constrains the timing of deep-ocean oxygenation. © 2017 The Author(s).
Poulton, S. W.,
Wignall, P. B.,
The onset of widespread marine red beds and the evolution of ferruginous oceans.
Nature Communications, 8(1),