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Controls on the stable isotope compositions of travertine from hyperalkaline springs in Oman: Insights from clumped isotope measurements

Falk, E.S., Guo, W., Paukert, A.N., Matter, J.M., Mervine, E.M. and Kelemen, P.B. (2016) Controls on the stable isotope compositions of travertine from hyperalkaline springs in Oman: Insights from clumped isotope measurements Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 192, pp. 1-28. (doi:10.1016/j.gca.2016.06.026).

Record type: Article


Carbonate formation at hyperalkaline springs is typical of serpentinization in peridotite massifs worldwide. These travertines have long been known to exhibit large variations in their carbon and oxygen isotope compositions, extending from apparent equilibrium values to highly depleted values. However, the exact causes of these variations are not well constrained. We analyzed a suite of well-characterized fresh carbonate precipitates and travertines associated with hyperalkaline springs in the peridotite section of the Samail ophiolite, Sultanate of Oman, and found their clumped isotope compositions vary systematically with formation environments. Based on these findings, we identified four main processes controlling the stable isotope compositions of these carbonates. These include hydroxylation of CO2, partial isotope equilibration of dissolved inorganic carbon, mixing between isotopically distinct carbonate end-members, and post-depositional recrystallization. Most notably, in fresh crystalline films on the surface of hyperalkaline springs and in some fresh carbonate precipitates from the bottom of hyperalkaline pools, we observed large enrichments in ?47 (up to ?0.2‰ above expected equilibrium values) which accompany depletions in ?18O and ?13C, yielding about 0.01‰ increase in ?47 and 1.1‰ decrease in ?13C for every 1‰ decrease in ?18O, relative to expected equilibrium values. This disequilibrium trend, also reflected in preserved travertines ranging in age from modern to ?40,000 years old, is interpreted to arise mainly from the isotope effects associated with the hydroxylation of CO2 in high-pH fluids and agrees with our first-order theoretical estimation. In addition, in some fresh carbonate precipitates from the bottom of hyperalkaline pools and in subsamples of one preserved travertine terrace, we observed additional enrichments in ?47 at intermediate ?13C and ?18O, consistent with mixing between isotopically distinct carbonate end-members. Our results suggest that carbonate clumped isotope analysis can be a valuable tool for identifying and distinguishing processes not readily apparent from the carbonate bulk stable isotope compositions alone, e.g., kinetic effects or mixing of different carbonate end-members, which can significantly alter both the apparent formation temperatures and apparent radiocarbon ages. The isotope trends observed in these travertine samples could be applied more broadly to identify extinct hyperalkaline springs in terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments, to better constrain the formation conditions and post-depositional alteration of hyperalkaline spring carbonates, and to extract potential paleoclimate information.

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Accepted/In Press date: 19 June 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 23 June 2016
Published date: 1 November 2016
Keywords: Clumped isotopes, Kinetic isotope fractionation, Alkaline springs, Travertine, Carbonate
Organisations: Geochemistry


Local EPrints ID: 401805
ISSN: 0016-7037
PURE UUID: 4c6af28a-40f1-4d36-aa0a-1e7c3b6227e2

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Date deposited: 19 Oct 2016 12:49
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 04:10

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Author: E.S. Falk
Author: W. Guo
Author: A.N. Paukert
Author: J.M. Matter
Author: E.M. Mervine
Author: P.B. Kelemen

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