Florindo, F., Roberts, A.P. and Palmer, M.R.
Magnetite dissolution in siliceous sediments.
Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 4, (7), . (doi:10.1029/2003GC000516).
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Magnetite dissolution, and consequent loss of magnetization, is widely observed in reducing sedimentary environments, where the decrease in Eh-pH values with depth is driven by bacterially mediated degradation of organic carbon. We have observed low magnetizations in sediments with elevated pore water silica concentrations that arise from diagenesis of biogenic silica and/or silicic volcanic ash. These depletions in magnetization are greater than can be accounted for by dilution with magnetite-poor sediments and suggest that postdepositional destruction of magnetite has occurred. Biosiliceous sediments usually also contain elevated concentrations of organic carbon, which makes it difficult to separate organic-carbon-related magnetite dissolution from other possible mechanisms for magnetite dissolution. However, the extent of magnetite dissolution in the sedimentary sequences that we have studied is not obviously related to the redox-state of the environment. This suggests that other mechanisms might have given rise to magnetite dissolution in these siliceous sediments. Thermodynamic calculations indicate that magnetite is unstable under conditions of elevated dissolved silica concentrations (and appropriate Eh-pH conditions) and predict that magnetite will break down to produce iron-bearing smectite. A survey of magnetic susceptibility and pore water geochemical data from widely distributed Ocean Drilling Program sites supports this observed link between high dissolved silica concentrations and low magnetic susceptibilities. This observed link also holds for environments with low biogenic silica productivity (and low organic carbon content) but with high interstitial silica concentrations due to dissolution of silicic volcanic ashes. Dissolution of magnetite is therefore predicted to be a common feature of siliceous sedimentary environments.
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