Abstract

The stratigraphic expression of meteoric diagenesis in carbonates is a glimpse into the weathering, fluid transport, and biological productivity of the ancient near-surface terrestrial environment. To infer this environmental information, we use a probabilistic approach to merge an isotope-based reactive transport model with chemostratigraphic data from carbonates that were subaerially exposed during an expansion of the late Paleozoic ice age in the middle Carboniferous. The rate of carbon flowing through the carbonate platform relative to the rate of carbon reacting between mineral and fluid phases controls the length scale, curvature, and magnitude of the diagenetic carbon isotope profiles. The ratio of advection to reaction is determined for seven stratigraphic sections, and the advection rate is used to estimate the minimum carbonate weathering associated with each profile. These carbonate weathering rates extrapolated over the expansive shallow carbonate platforms of the middle Carboniferous indicate that glacioeustatic fall may have caused a 20%–50% increase in the dissolved CaCO3 flux to the ocean. The complex feedbacks among carbonate weathering and accumulation, atmospheric pCO2, glacioeustasy, and passive margin subsidence may have played an unexplored role in the glacial-interglacial climate dynamics of the late Paleozoic ice age.

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