Abstract

The importance of dust as a source of iron (Fe) for primary production in modern oceans is well studied but remains poorly explored for deep time. Vast dust deposits are well recognized from the late Paleozoic and provisionally implicated in primary production through Fe fertilization. Here, we document dust impacts on marine primary productivity in Moscovian (Pennsylvanian, ca. 307 Ma) and Asselian (Permian, ca. 295 Ma) carbonate strata from peri-Gondwanan terranes of Iran. Autotrophic contents of samples, detected by both point-count and lipid-biomarker analyses, track concentrations of highly reactive Fe, consistent with the hypothesis that dust stimulated primary productivity, also promoting carbonate precipitation. Additionally, highly reactive Fe tracks the fine-dust fraction. Dust-borne Fe fertilization increased organic and inorganic carbon cycling in low- and mid-latitude regions of Pangaea, maintaining low pCO2.

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