Orbitally forced sphalerite growth in the Upper Mississippi Valley District

M. Li, H. L. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Groundwater plays an important role in global water cycles and Earth's climate system. Nevertheless, the geologic history of groundwater activity remains unclear due to limited data. Sphalerite colour banding in the Upper Mississippi Valley District (USA) is apparently caused by variation in oxidation state during precipitation which is controlled by the penetration of deeply circulating groundwater. Here, time series analysis of the grayscale profile of the Permian sphalerite banding in this district shows the banding correlates with Earth's eccentricity, obliquity, and precession forcing. We have found that the astronomical forcing paced the fluxes of heat and precipitation and regulated the penetration of groundwater into the ore zone and thus the sphalerite banding. The results demonstrate that banding in sphalerite follows the Milankovitch climate frequencies over 104 - 105 years. Therefore, we show that groundwater has a major role in depositing the iron-rich bands of the sphalerite and, as a final corollary, that the banding itself can be used to decipher the effects of climate on groundwater variations in the global water cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-22
Number of pages5
JournalGeochemical Perspectives Letters
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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