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TitleMercury record of intense hydrothermal activity during the early Cambrian, South China
AuthorZhu, G; Wang, P; Li, T; Zhao, K; Zheng, W; Feng, X; Shen, J; Grasby, S EORCID logo; Sun, G; Tang, S; Yan, H
SourcePalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology vol. 568, 110294, 2021 p. 1-10,
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20210155
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
AreaGuizhou Province; Tongren; China
Lat/Long WENS 99.0000 123.0000 34.0000 22.0000
Subjectsenvironmental geology; tectonics; geochemistry; Nature and Environment; Science and Technology; Lower Cambrian; paleogeography; mercury geochemistry; isotopic studies; mercury; carbon isotopes; organic carbon; trace element geochemistry; major element geochemistry; tectonic history; hydrothermal systems; volcanism; paleoenvironment; paleoecology; bedrock geology; lithology; sedimentary rocks; black shales; sea water geochemistry; metals; evolution; depositional environment; facies; Niutitang Formation; Phanerozoic; Paleozoic; Cambrian
Illustrationsgeoscientific sketch maps; photographs; geochemical profiles; geochemical plots; lithologic sections; schematic models
ProgramGEM2: Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals Western Arctic, Pearya Terrane, North Ellesmere
Released2021 02 23
AbstractThe early Cambrian was an important interval in Earth history, marked by significant evolution of both life and the marine environments it inhabited. While enhanced hydrothermal activity has been proposed as a trigger for ecosystem perturbations in the early Cambrian, it remains unclear how intense and how long such perturbations may have been. To address this, we examined mercury (Hg) concentrations and mercury isotopes, as well as major and trace elements, of organic-rich black shales of the lower Cambrian Niutitang Formation, in the Tongren area of Guizhou Province, South China. Our data show that Hg in these sediments is hosted dominantly by organic matter. Elevated raw and normalized Hg contents provide direct evidence of intense hydrothermal activity during the early Cambrian in South China. We suggest that high metal flux (e.g., Mo, U, and Ba) into the seawater occurred through this intense submarine volcanism, altering seawater compositions. Intense hydrothermal activity was likely a significant trigger of environmental and biological evolution during the early Cambrian in South China.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This paper examines the impact of release of nutrients and metals by volcanism on seawater and how that may have influenced the evolution of life in the early Cambrian. Results show that volcanism lead to increased marine productivity and is tied to a large diversification at that time.

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