Carbon and strontium isotope evolution of seawater across the Ediacaran-Cambrian transition: Evidence from the Xiaotan section, NE Yunnan, South China

Da Li, H. F. Ling, Graham A. Shields-Zhou, X Chen, L. Cremonese, M. L. Och, Matthew Thirlwall, Christina Manning

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This study reports a high-resolution carbon and strontium isotope profile for the Ediacaran–Cambrian Xiaotan section, situated in northeastern Yunnan, South China. Xiaotan section represents a more distal setting than the more condensed Meishucun section in eastern Yunnan, and is, biostratigraphically and chemostratigraphically, the best constrained section on the Yangtze platform covering the Ediacaran–Cambrian interval. The carbonate carbon isotopic ratios of the late Ediacaran, upper Dengying Formation to the early Cambrian, Zhujiaqing Formation, exhibit a large negative excursion (N1, −12.2‰) in the Daibu Member, just below the first appearance of small shelly fossils (SSF) at the base of the Zhongyicun Member, and a sustained pre-‘Tommotian’ positive excursion (P4, δ13C up to +7.3‰) which coincides with the occurrence of the Heraultipegma yunnanensis (=Watsonella crosbyi) Assemblage SSF in the Dahai Member. Least altered strontium isotope ratios, based on sequential acid leaching of limestones as well as dolostones and phosphorites following rigid petrographic and geochemical selection, reveal a systematic decreasing trend from 0.7085–6 in the latest Ediacaran (Daibu Member) to about 0.7082–3 by the FAD of Watsonella crosbyi in China (Dahai Member). The carbon and strontium isotope features of the Xiaotan section can be correlated with those from sections in Morocco, Mongolia and Siberia, and confirm a decrease in seawater 87Sr/86Sr during Cambrian Stage 1 accompanied by C-isotope oscillations, which together may assist global stratigraphic correlation of the early Cambrian. As previously intimated by C-isotopes and biostratigraphy, this new Sr-isotope evidence confirms a depositional gap during the pre-Tommotian in the Aldan River area of SE Siberia. The decreasing trend of 87Sr/86Sr in the Cambrian Stage 1 marks a temporary (∼16 Myrs) reversal of the overall increasing trend during the Ediacaran and Cambrian periods, and potentially records a short-term decrease in continental weathering within a prolonged interval of generally increasing weathering rates. Other factors, such as increased submarine hydrothermal alteration, ocean spreading rates and/or chemical weathering of volcanic provinces and young carbonate dissolution might also have affected this decrease in seawater 87Sr/86Sr.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-147
JournalPrecambrian Research
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

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