Abstract

Sphaerosiderite, a morphologically distinct millimeter-scale spherulitic siderite (FeCO3), forms predominantly in wetland soils and sediments, and is common in the geologic record. Ancient sphaerosiderites are found in paleosol horizons within coal-bearing stratigraphic intervals and, like their modern counterparts, are interpreted as having formed in water-saturated environments. Here we report on sphaerosiderites from four different stratigraphic units, each of which has highly variable 13C and relatively stable 18C compositions. The unique isotopic trends are analogous to well-documented meteoric calcite lines, which we define here as meteoric sphaerosiderite lines. Meteoric sphaerosiderite lines provide a new means of constraining ground-water δ18O and thus allow evaluation of paleohydrology and paleoclimate in humid continental settings.

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