Integrated carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen isotope chemostratigraphy of the Ediacaran Lantian Formation in South China: Spatial gradient, ocean redox oscillation, and fossil distribution.Geobiology. 2017 07; 15(4):552-571.G
The Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation in South China is a prime target for geobiological investigation because it offers opportunities to integrate chemostratigraphic and paleobiological data. Previous studies were mostly focused on successions in shallow-water shelf facies, but data from deep-water successions are needed to fully understand basinal redox structures. Here, we report δ13 Ccarb , δ13 Corg , δ34 Spyr , δ34 SCAS , and δ15 Nsed data from a drill core of the fossiliferous Lantian Formation, which is a deep-water equivalent of the Doushantuo Formation. Our data confirm a large (>10‰) spatial gradient in δ13 Ccarb in the lower Doushantuo/Lantian formations, but this gradient is probably due to the greater sensitivity of carbonate-poor deep-water sediments to isotopic mixing with 13 C-depleted carbonate cements. A pronounced negative δ13 Ccarb excursion (EN3) in the upper Doushantuo/Lantian formations, however, is spatially consistent and may be an equivalent of the Shuram excursion. δ34 Spyr is more negative in deeper-water facies than in shallow-water facies, particularly in the lower Doushantuo/Lantian formations, and this spatial pattern is interpreted as evidence for ocean redox stratification: Pyrite precipitated in euxinic deep waters has lower δ34 Spyr than that formed within shallow-water sediments. The Lantian Formation was probably deposited in oscillating oxic and euxinic conditions. Euxinic black shales have higher TOC and TN contents, but lower δ34 Spyr and δ15 Nsed values. In euxinic environments, pyrite was predominantly formed in the water column and organic nitrogen was predominantly derived from nitrogen fixation or NH4+ assimilation because of quantitative denitrification, resulting in lower δ34 Spyr and δ15 Nsed values. Benthic macroalgae and putative animals occur exclusively in euxinic black shales. If preserved in situ, these organisms must have lived in brief oxic episodes punctuating largely euxinic intervals, only to be decimated and preserved when the local environment switched back to euxinia again. Thus, taphonomy and ecology were the primary factors controlling the stratigraphic distribution of macrofossils in the Lantian Formation.