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Carbonate petrography, kerogen distribution, and carbon and oxygen isotope variations in an early Proterozoic transition from limestone to iron-formation deposition, Transvaal Supergroup, South AfricaThe transition zone comprises Campbellrand microbialaminated (replacing "cryptalgalaminate") limestone and shale, with minor dolomite, conformably overlain by the Kuruman Iron Formation of which the basal part is characterized by siderite-rich microbanded iron-formation with minor magnetite and some hematite-containing units. The iron-formation contains subordinate intraclastic and microbialaminated siderite mesobands and was deposited in deeper water than the limestones. The sequence is virtually unaltered with diagenetic mineral assemblages reflecting a temperature interval of about 110 degrees to 170 degrees C and pressures of 2 kbars. Carbonate minerals in the different rock types are represented by primary micritic precipitates (now recrystallized to microsparite), early precompactional sparry cements and concretions, deep burial limpid euhedral sparites, and spar cements precipitated from metamorphic fluids in close contact with diabase sills. Paragenetic pathways of the carbonate minerals are broadly similar in all lithofacies with kerogen intimately associated with them. Kerogen occurs as pigmentation in carbonate crystals, as reworked organic detritus in clastic-textured carbonate units, and as segregations of kerogen pigment around late diagenetic carbonate crystals. Locally kerogen may also be replaced by carbonate spar. Carbon isotope compositions of the carbonate minerals and kerogen are dependent on their mode of occurrence and on the composition of the dominant carbonate species in a specific lithofacies. Integration of sedimentary, petrographic, geochemical, and isotopic results makes it possible to distinguish between depositional, early diagenetic, deep burial, and metamorphic effects on the isotopic compositions of the carbonate minerals and the kerogen in the sequence. Major conclusions are that deep burial thermal decarboxylation led to 13C depletion in euhedral ferroan sparites and 13C enrichment in kerogen (organic carbon). Metamorphic sparites are most depleted in 13C. Carbonates in oxide-rich iron-formations are more depleted in 13C than those in siderite-rich iron-formation whereas the kerogens in oxide banded iron-formations (BIF) are more enriched. This implies that the siderite-rich iron-formations were not derived from oxide-rich iron-formation through reduction of ferric iron by organic matter. Organic matter oxidation by ferric iron did, however, decrease the abundance of kerogen in oxide-rich iron-formation and led to the formation of isotopically very light sparry carbonates. Siderite and calcmicrosparite both represent recrystallized primary micritic precipitates but differ in their 13C composition, with the siderites depleted in 13C by 4.6 per mil on average relative to calcmicrosparite. This means that the siderites were precipitated from water with dissolved inorganic carbon depleted in 13C by about 9 per mil relative to that from which the limestones precipitated. This implies an ocean system stratified with regard to total carbonate, with the deeper water, from which siderite-rich iron-formation formed, depleted in 13C. Iron-formations were deposited in areas of very low organic matter supply. Depletion of 13C may, therefore, derive not from degradation of organic matter but from hydrothermal activity, a conclusion which is supported by 18O composition of the carbonate minerals and trace element and rare earth element (REE) compositions of the iron-formations.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Beukes, N. J.
(Rand Afrikaans University Johannesburg, South Africa)
Klein, C.
Kaufman, A. J.
Hayes, J. M.
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
June 1, 1990
Publication Information
Publication: Economic geology and the bulletin of the Society of Economic Geologists
Volume: 85
Issue: 4
ISSN: 0361-0128
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
NASA Discipline Number 52-30
Non-NASA Center
NASA Program Exobiology
NASA Discipline Exobiology

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