Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-6-2017

Publication Title

Nature Communications

ISSN

2041-1723

Volume

8

Issue

1

First Page

1316

Last Page

1316

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-01453-z

PubMed ID

29105659

Abstract

The Neoproterozoic Earth was punctuated by two low-latitude Snowball Earth glaciations. Models permit oceans with either total ice cover or substantial areas of open water. Total ice cover would make an anoxic ocean likely, and would be a formidable barrier to biologic survival. However, there are no direct data constraining either the redox state of the ocean or marine biological productivity during the glacials. Here we present iron-speciation, redox-sensitive trace element, and nitrogen isotope data from a Neoproterozoic (Marinoan) glacial episode. Iron-speciation indicates deeper waters were anoxic and Fe-rich, while trace element concentrations indicate surface waters were in contact with an oxygenated atmosphere. Furthermore, synglacial sedimentary nitrogen is isotopically heavier than the modern atmosphere, requiring a biologic cycle with nitrogen fixation, nitrification and denitrification. Our results indicate significant regions of open marine water and active biologic productivity throughout one of the harshest glaciations in Earth history.

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