Abstract

We utilized a novel approach to modeling the oceanic sulfur cycle by combining δ34S and Δ33S curves from sulfate evaporite minerals in order to investigate redox conditions during the mid-Neoproterozoic. This technique allowed us to estimate the oxidized and reduced proportions of the total oceanic sulfur sink. Isotopic data from the mid-Neoproterozoic Minto Inlet Formation (Victoria Island, Northwest Territories, Canada; ca. 850 Ma) show a limited range (16.8‰ ± 1.4‰) in δ34S of seawater sulfate and a sulfur cycle that is strongly shifted toward the sulfate sink (pyrite burial fraction, ƒp, = 0.2), suggesting oxidizing conditions in the ocean and atmosphere at the time of deposition. These evaporites and others, which were deposited contemporaneously within a huge intracontinental basin, acted as a chemical pump, removing sulfate from the oceans and oxygen from the atmosphere to be buried as sulfate evaporites.

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