Molybdenum isotope behaviour accompanying weathering and riverine transport in a basaltic terrain

Pearce, Christopher R., Burton, Kevin W., Pogge von Strandmann, Philip A.E., James, Rachael H. and Gíslason, Sigurður R. (2010) Molybdenum isotope behaviour accompanying weathering and riverine transport in a basaltic terrain Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 295, (1-2), pp. 104-114. (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2010.03.032).


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The application of the molybdenum (Mo) isotope system as a proxy for determining changes in the redox state of the oceans is predicated on the assumption that the composition of continental input can be characterised from crustal rock types, and remains constant. However, it has recently been shown that the ?98/95Mo composition of global rivers varies between 0.15‰ and 2.4‰ and is therefore systematically heavier than the average composition of the continental crust (? 0‰). In order to understand the processes that control Mo-isotope fractionation during weathering this study presents ?98/95Mo and Mo abundance data for rivers (and estuarine samples) from Iceland that drain predominantly basaltic terrains. Resolvable differences are observed in the isotopic composition of the riverine Mo sources; ice (?98/95Moice > 1.8‰), basaltic bedrock (?98/95Mobedrock ? 0.0‰) and hydrothermal waters (?98/95Mohydrothermal ??3.4‰). Systematic changes in the dissolved Mo-isotope composition are also observed within river catchments, with ?98/95Mo values increasing from ? 0‰ in glacial rivers (close to the source) to ? 1‰ downstream, consistent with Mo-isotopes being fractionated during weathering. Analysis of other riverine phases (bedload, colloids and iron-precipitates) demonstrates that these phases preferentially incorporate light Mo-isotopes, and remain coupled to the dissolved load during riverine transportation. A ?98/95Mo profile through the Borgarfjörður estuary exhibits a predominantly conservative mixing behaviour, but suggests that the release of isotopically light Mo from the particulate and/or colloidal phases may occur in the low salinity part of the estuarine mixing zone

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2010.03.032
ISSNs: 0012-821X (print)
Keywords: molybdenum (Mo) isotopes, basaltic weathering, riverine inputs, estuarine mixing
Organisations: Geochemistry
ePrint ID: 342513
Date :
Date Event
15 June 2010Published
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2012 11:04
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 16:39
Further Information:Google Scholar

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