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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Sep 2018

Research article | 20 Sep 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Rapid recovery of Ediacaran oceans in the aftermath of the Marinoan glaciation

Anthony Dosseto1, Holly L. Taylor1, Juraj Farkaš2,3, Grant M. Cox2, Andrew Kingston4, Andrew Lorrey5, Alexander J. Corrick2, and Bing Shen6 Anthony Dosseto et al.
  • 1Wollongong Isotope Geochronology Laboratory, School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia
  • 2Department of Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
  • 3Department of Environmental Geosciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 4National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 5National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 6Ministry of Education Key Laboratory of Orogenic Belts and Crustal Evolution, School of Earth and Space Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, People’s Republic of China

Abstract. The termination of Cryogenian glaciations would have undoubtedly impacted the chemistry of Neoproterozoic oceans, with possible consequences for life; but the extent and duration of this impact are poorly constrained. In this study, we use the lithium (Li) isotope composition of Ediacaran cap dolostones from South Australia (Nuccaleena Formation) and China (Doushantuo Fm) to investigate changes in ocean chemistry that followed the Marinoan deglaciation. The effect of diagenesis was evaluated and while the Nuccaleena Fm is likely to have preserved the primary composition of cap dolostone deposition, the offset in Li isotope ratios observed for the Doushantuo Fm could possibly reflect partial overprinting by diagenetic fluids. The Li isotope composition of Ediacaran seawater was estimated and we suggest it was similar to that of late Cenozoic oceans for most of the cap dolostone deposition. Using a box model for the oceanic Li cycle, we show that at the onset of deglaciation, the supply of riverine Li to the oceans was up to 50 times the modern flux. The modelled riverine Li isotope composition suggests that continents resembled modern high-latitude regions during this time. This episode was short-lived (up to 1 Myr) and the subsequent supply of riverine Li was similar to modern conditions, both in flux and isotope composition, for the whole duration of cap dolostone deposition. These results suggest that Ediacaran oceans and continents rapidly recovered from the Marinoan glaciation to reach environmental conditions similar to the late Cenozoic. From the standpoint of the Li oceanic budget, the Ediacaran oceans in which complex lifeforms emerged may have not been that different from our modern oceans.

Anthony Dosseto et al.
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Anthony Dosseto et al.
Anthony Dosseto et al.
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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Life experienced a big boost in complexity ~ 600 million years ago. This step forward in evolution happened not long after the largest glaciations experienced in Earth's history. This study shows that following the last major Snowball Earth, the planet's surface rapidly recovered and the first animals emerged in an environment maybe not that different from our modern oceans.
Life experienced a big boost in complexity ~ 600 million years ago. This step forward in...