Resetting of Mg isotopes between calcite and dolomite during burial metamorphism: Outlook of Mg isotopes as geothermometer and seawater proxy

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Abstract

Magnesium isotopes are an emerging tool to study the geological processes recorded in carbonates. Calcite, due to its ubiquitous occurrence and the large Mg isotope fractionation associated with the mineral, has attracted great interests in applications of Mg isotope geochemistry. However, the fidelity of Mg isotopes in geological records of carbonate minerals (e.g., calcite and dolomite) against burial metamorphism remains poorly constrained. Here we report our investigation on the Mg isotope systematics of a dolomitized Middle Triassic Geshan carbonate section in eastern China. Magnesium isotope analysis was complemented by analyses of Sr-C-O isotopic compositions, major and trace element concentrations, and petrographic and mineralogical features. Multiple lines of evidence consistently indicated that post-depositional diagenesis of carbonate minerals occurred to the carbonate rocks. Magnesium isotope compositions of the carbonate rocks closely follow a mixing trend between a high δ26Mg dolomite end member and a low δ26Mg calcite end member, irrespective of sample positions in the section and calcite/dolomite ratio in the samples. By fitting the measured Mg isotope data using a two-end member mixing model, an inter-mineral Δ26Mgdolomite-calcite fractionation of 0.72‰ was obtained. Based on the experimentally derived Mg isotope fractionation factors for dolomite and calcite, a temperature of 150–190 °C was calculated to correspond to the 0.72‰ Δ26Mgdolomite-calcite fractionation. Such temperature range matches with the burial-thermal history of the local strata, making a successful case of Mg isotope geothermometry. Our results indicate that both calcite and dolomite had been re-equilibrated during burial metamorphism, and based on isotope mass balance of Mg, the system was buffered by dolomite in the section. Therefore, burial metamorphism may reset Mg isotope signature of calcite, and Mg isotope compositions in calcite should be dealt with caution in studies of carbonate rocks with thermal history. By contrast, Mg isotopes of dolomite are less prone to post-depositional resetting due to a number of properties including high Mg abundance and high thermodynamic stability, and Mg isotopes in dolomite may be a more robust recorder for original carbonate precipitates.

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Hu, Z., Hu, W., Wang, X., Lu, Y., Wang, L., Liao, Z., & Li, W. (2017). Resetting of Mg isotopes between calcite and dolomite during burial metamorphism: Outlook of Mg isotopes as geothermometer and seawater proxy. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 208, 24–40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2017.03.026

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