Biogeochemistry of Paleozoic brachiopods from New York State and Ontario
Bates, Nicholas R.
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A comprehensive elemental, isotopic and microstructural analyses was undertaken of brachiopod calcites from the Hamilton Group (Middle Devonian), Clinton Group (Middle Silurian) and Middle to Upper Ordovician strata of Ontario and New York State. The majority of specimens were microstructurally and chemically preserved in a pristine state, although a number of specimens show some degree of post-depositional alteration. Brachiopod calcites from the Hamilton and Clinton Groups were altered by marine derived waters whereas Trenton Group (Middle Ordovician) brachiopods altered in meteorically derived fluids. Analysis of the elemental and isotopic compositions of pristine Hamilton Group brachiopods indicates there are several chemical relationships inherent to brachiopod calcite. Taxonomic differentiation of Mg, Sr and Na contents was evident in three co-occuring species from the Hamilton Group. Mean Mg contents of pristine brachiopods were respectively Athyris spiriferoides (1309ppm), Mucrospirifer mucronatus (1035ppm) and Mediospirifer audacula (789ppm). Similarly, taxonomic differentiation of shell calcite compositions was observed in co-occuring brachiopods from the Clinton Group (Middle Silurian) and the Trenton Group (Middle Ordovician). The taxonomic control of elemental regulation into shell calcite is probably related to the slightly different physiological systems and secretory mechanisms. A relationship was observed in Hamilton Group species between the depth of respective brachiopod communities and their Mg, Sr and Na contents. These elements were depleted in the shell calcites of deeper brachiopods compared to their counterparts in shallower reaches. Apparently shell calcite elemental composition is related to environmental conditions of the depositional setting, which may have controlled the secretory regime, mineral morphology of shell calcite and precipitation rates of each species. Despite the change in Mg, Sr and Na contents between beds and formations in response to environmental conditions, the taxonomic differentiation of shell calcite composition is maintained. Thus, it may be possible to predict relative depth changes in paleoenvironmental reconstructions using brachiopod calcite. This relationship of brachiopod chemistry to depth was also tested within a transgressiveregressive (T-R) cycle in the Rochester Shale Formation (Middle Silurian). Decreasing Mg, Sr and Na contents were observed in the transition from the shallow carbonates of the Irondequoit Formation to the deeper shales of the lowest 2 m of Rochester Shale. However, no isotopic and elemental trends were observed within the entire T-R cycle which suggests that either the water conditions did not change significantly or that the cycle is illusory. A similar relationship was observed between the Fe and Mn chemistries of shell calcite and redox/paleo-oxygen conditions. Hamilton Group brachiopods analysed from deeper areas of the shelf are enriched in Mn and Fe relative to those from shallow zones. The presence of black shales and dysaerobic faunas, during deposition of the Hamilton Group, suggests that the waters of the northern Appalachian Basin were stratified. The deeper brachiopods were marginally positioned above an oxycline and their shell calcites reflect periodic incursions of oxygen depleted water. Furthermore, analysis of Dalmanella from the black shales of the Collingwood Shale (Upper Ordovician) in comparison to those from the carbonates of the Verulam Formation (Middle Ordovician) confirm the relationship of Fe and Mn contents to periodic but not permanent incursions of low oxygen waters. The isotopic compositions of brachiopod calcite found in Hamilton Group (813C; +2.5% 0 to +5.5% 0; 8180 -2.50/00 to -4.00/00) and Clinton Group (813C; +4.00/00 to +6.0; 8180; -1.8% 0 to -3.60/ 00) are heavier than previously reported. Uncorrected paleotemperatures (assuming normal salinity, 0% 0 SMOW and no fractionation effects) derived from these isotopic values suggest that the Clinton sea temperature (Middle Silurian) ranged from 18°C to 28°C and Hamilton seas (Middle Devonian) ranged between 24°C and 29°C. In addition, the isotopic variation of brachiopod shell calcite is significant and is related to environmental conditions. Within a single time-correlative shell bed (the Demissa Bed; Hamilton Group) a positive isotopic shift of 2-2.5% 0 in 013C compositions and a positive shift of 1.0-1.50/00 in 0180 composition of shell calcite is observed, corresponding with a deepening of brachiopod habitats toward the axis of the Appalachian Basin. Moroever, a faunal succession from deeper Ambocoelia dominated brachiopod association to a shallow Tropidoleptus dominated assocation is reflected by isotopic shifts of 1.0-1.50/00. Although, other studies have emphasized the significance of ±20/oo shifts in brachiopod isotopic compositions, the recognition of isotopic variability in brachiopod calcite within single beds and within depositional settings such as the Appalachian Basin has important implications for the interpretation of secular isotopic trends. A significant proportion of the variation observed isotopic distribution during the Paleozoic is related to environmental conditions within the depositional setting.