Iron mineralogy and redox conditions during deposition of the mid-Proterozoic Appekunny Formation, Belt Supergroup, Glacier National Park
Published:September 01, 2016
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Sarah P. Slotznick, Don Winston, Samuel M. Webb, Joseph L. Kirschvink, Woodward W. Fischer, 2016. "Iron mineralogy and redox conditions during deposition of the mid-Proterozoic Appekunny Formation, Belt Supergroup, Glacier National Park", Belt Basin: Window to Mesoproterozoic Earth, John S. MacLean, James W. Sears
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The redox state of the mid-Proterozoic oceans, lakes, and atmospheres is still debated, but it is vital for understanding the emergence and rise of macroscopic organisms and eukaryotes. The Appekunny Formation, Belt Supergroup, Montana, contains some of these early macrofossils dated between 1.47 Ga and 1.40 Ga and provides a well-preserved record of paleoenvironmental conditions. We analyzed the iron chemistry and mineralogy in samples from Glacier National Park, Montana, by pairing bulk rock magnetic techniques with textural techniques, including light microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and synchrotron-based X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Field observations of the Appekunny Formation combined with mineralogical information allowed revised correlations of stratigraphic members across the park. However, late diagenetic and/or metasomatic fluids affected primary iron phases, as evidenced by prevalent postdepositional phases including base-metal sulfides. On the west side of the park, pyrrhotite and chlorite rims formed during burial metamorphism in at least two recrystallization events. These complex postdepositional transformations could affect bulk proxies for paleoredox. By pairing bulk and textural techniques, we show primary records of redox chemistry were preserved in early diagenetic and often recrystallized framboidal pyrite, submicron magnetite grains interpreted to be detrital in origin, and red-bed laminae interpreted to record primary detrital oxides. Based on these observations, we hypothesize that the shallow waters of the mid-Proterozoic Belt Basin were similar to those in modern marine and lacustrine waters: fully oxygenated, with detrital reactive iron fluxes that mineralized pyrite during organic diagenesis in suboxic, anoxic, and sulfidic conditions in sedimentary pore waters.