Triple oxygen isotope systematics of diagenetic recrystallization of diatom opal-A to opal-CT to microquartz in deep sea sediments

Daniel E. Ibarra, Anastasia G. Yanchilina, Max K. Lloyd, Katharina A. Methner, C. Page Chamberlain, Ruth Yam, Aldo Shemesh, Daniel A. Stolper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

The oxygen-18 isotopic composition (δ18O) of silica preserved in oceanic sediments is an important archive of Earth's temperature and/or seawater δ18O from the Archean to present. Recent advances in high-precision measurements of both δ18O and δ17O values have been used to provide additional constraints on what the oxygen isotopic composition of chert reflects about past conditions. Here, we examine the effects on the triple oxygen isotopic composition of chert that occurs during transformation and recrystallization of biogenic opal-A to opal-CT to microquartz in deep sea sediments. We studied late Miocene to present samples from the Sea of Japan at ODP Site 795 and measured biogenic diatom opal-A, opal-CT, microquartz chert, and ‘altered’ opal-A samples—previously measured for δ18O values only—for both δ18O and δ17O values. We find that δ18O decreases and Δ′17O increases (where Δ′17O = δ17O – 0.528 × δ18O) with depth, coincident with the conversions from diatom opal-A to opal-CT to microquartz. Silica samples deviate from the trend expected for triple oxygen isotopic equilibrium with modern seawater. To explain these data, we developed a model that shows that local temperature gradients and pore fluid δ18O profiles in combination lower the measured opal-CT and microquartz δ18O values and raise the Δ′17O values relative to the initial opal-A, but deviate from triple oxygen isotopic equilibrium with seawater. We find that a steeper local temperature gradient and a larger influence of hydrothermal alteration of basalt at the base of the sediment column (which lowers pore fluid δ18O values) in the past explain both the measured δ18O and Δ′17O values of the opal-CT and microquartz. These data and our modeling show that the transformation of opal-A to microquartz in marine sediments at elevated temperatures and in the presence of lowered pore water δ18O values leads to an array that falls below the theoretical triple oxygen isotope line of equilibrium for SiO2 with modern seawater. Further, our model indicates that opal-CT and microquartz do form in triple oxygen isotopic equilibrium with pore fluids that are offset in their triple oxygen isotopic composition compared to seawater due to fluid-rock alteration of igneous rocks at the base of the sediment column. The diagenetic processes taking place in the Japan Sea do not explain a large portion of the existing Archean to present triple oxygen isotope chert data, which likely require either changes in the oxygen isotopic composition of the source water (i.e., ocean water) and/or alteration by meteoric fluids. Further, our data demonstrate that the triple oxygen isotopic composition of preserved chert need not represent surface conditions, but instead may reflect processes that occur in subsurface sediments at elevated temperatures and with modified pore fluid oxygen isotopic compositions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-323
Number of pages20
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume320
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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