Extracting Meaningful Environmental and Age Information From a c. 2.4–2.2 Ga Peritidal Phosphorite: The Turee Creek Group, Western Australia

Georgia G. Soares, Joshua M. Garber, Christopher H. House, Jesse R. Reimink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phosphorites can record oceanic conditions during their deposition, but the faithful retention of primary information in Paleoproterozoic deposits can be mitigated by post-depositional processes. Here, we examine a peritidal phosphorite within a microbialite reef complex in the 2.4–2.2 Ga Turee Creek Group in Western Australia to assess the environmental information retained. Field mapping and petrography distinguishes between authigenic and locally transported phosphorite fragments, each of which contains unique information regarding the deposit. Elemental mapping and laser-ablation analyses differentiate the impact of depositional versus early diagenetic versus metamorphic processes within these fragments. Samples within a near-shore pebble conglomerate have mixed riverine-oceanic signals and lack cerium anomalies, consistent with the depositional environment. Clasts from off-shore peloidal grainstone beds retain “hat-shaped” patterns with small negative cerium anomalies, reflective of transport and redeposition within potentially oxic seawater. U-Pb isotopic dates range from ∼1.8 to 2.3 Ga and are generally uncorrelated with rare earth element and yttrium data. The youngest date (∼1.8 Ga) is associated with recrystallized apatite, with concave down, middle rare earth element enriched patterns. A potential depositional age, ∼2.3 Ga, is associated with massive apatite in a chert-rich clast that has rare earth element patterns reflective of riverine-oceanic signals. Overall, the peritidal system in the reef was dynamic, with potentially oxic seawater that had a strong riverine influence. Local recycling and reworking, early diagenesis, and later orogenic events impacted the preserved geochemical signals and together show that spatially resolved geochronological and geochemical data are ideal for interpreting ancient phosphorites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023GC011216
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

Cite this