Compared with Phanerozoic strata, sulfate minerals are relatively rare in the Precambrian record likely due to the lower concentrations of sulfate in dominantly anoxic oceans. Here, we present a compilation of sulfate minerals that are stratigraphically associated with the Ediacaran Shuram excursion (SE) — the largest negative 13C excursion in Earth history. We evaluated 15 SE sections, all of which reveal the presence of sulfate minerals and/or concentration enrichment in carbonate-associated sulfate, suggesting a rise in sulfate reservoir. Notably, where data are available, the SE also reveals considerable enrichments in [Ba] relative to pre- and post-SE intervals. We propose that elevated seawater sulfate concentrations during the SE may have faciliated authigenesis of sulfate minerals. At the same time, the rise of Ba concentrations in shelf environments further facilitated barite deposition. A larger sulfate reservoir would stimulate microbial sulfate reduction and anaerobic oxidation of organic matter (including methane), contributing to the genesis of the SE. The existence of sulfate minerals throughout the SE suggests that oxidant pools were not depleted at that time, which challenges previous modelling results. Our study highlights the dynamic interplay of biogeochemical C, S, and Ba cycles in response to the Shuram oxygenation event.
Thematic collection: This article is part of the Sulfur in the Earth system collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/sulfur-in-the-earth-system