Chromium is a redox sensitive element that exhibits a large range of isotopic compositions in Earth's surface environments because of Cr(VI)-Cr(III) transformations. This property of Cr has been exploited as a tracer of Earth's oxygenation history using marine sediments. However, paleoredox applications using Cr are difficult to implement due to its complicated cycling, which creates spatial variability in seawater δ53Cr values. Applications are further hindered by the potential for variability in the major inputs of Cr, such as submarine volcanism, to mask redox processes. Two previous reports of negative excursions in sedimentary δ53Cr values during the middle Cretaceous Ocean Anoxic Event 2 (OAE 2) demonstrate these complications. Observed negative shifts in marine sediments conflict with the positive shifts expected in response to the increased drawdown of isotopically light Cr(III) prompted by the expansion of anoxic depositional sinks. In this study, a marine carbonate succession cored from the Eagle Ford Formation in Texas, USA, in the southern part of the Western Interior Seaway, depicts the negative 1.5‰ δ53Cr excursion occurring in two steps, with the second step reaching peak minimum values indistinguishable from isotopically unfractionated igneous sources. In contrast to published δ53Cr records, each step stratigraphically matches proxy evidence for increased eruption frequency and/or intensity of volcanic activity using combined 187Os/188Os, 87Sr/86Sr and Os concentration proxies previously measured from the same core, supporting higher inputs of volcanically sourced Cr to the oceans as the driver for the negative Cr isotope excursion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology