Abstract

The sedimentary geochemistry of manganese is dominated by the redox control of its speciation, higher oxidation states (Mn (super 3+) and (super 4+) ) occurring as insoluble oxyhydroxides in well-oxygenated environments and the lower oxidation state (Mn (super 2+) ) being much more soluble in oxygen-deficient settings. Its geochemical behavior is therefore quite different in oxic and anoxic environments, and where oxic and anoxic conditions are juxtaposed, Mn is recycled between the two environments. In modern marine sediments, Mn is present above its crustal abundance as an oxyhydroxide in all slowly accumulating (pelagic) sediments of the deep ocean and in surficial deposits of continental margin environments. Diagenetic recycling of Mn in the latter causes surficial deposits to have larger Mn enrichments than in many pelagic sediments. Bottom sediments of permanently anoxic basins show no enrichments and have Mn concentrations that are controlled solely by the aluminosilicate fraction. Manganese carbonates (kutnohorite and calcic rhodochrosite) are found only in anoxic sediments accumulating beneath surface oxic horizons (and therefore under oxygenated bottom waters) in many nearshore environments. Such enrichments are due to delivery of Mn by burial of surface oxyhydroxides into the subsurface anoxic environment where they are dissolved. Pore-water Mn levels can reach saturation with respect to a mixed Mn-Ca carbonate phase in such sediments. The diagenetic origin for these phases is shown by their carbon isotope compositions, which typically indicate a carbon source from decomposing organic matter. The presence of Mn carbonates therefore signifies that the host sediment must have accumulated under oxygenated bottom waters.On the basis of this information it is proposed that, in contrast to several current explanations for the formation of Mn carbonates (kutnohorite and rhodochrosite) in ancient organic-rich shales, limestone, and marl sequences and in many Mn ore deposits, the occurrence of these mineral phases indicates that the sediments originally accumulated beneath oxygenated bottom waters. By analogy with the present, Mn carbonates could not have formed in the bottom waters of anoxic basins. These diagenetic phases, however, did form where Mn was supplied at a high rate, namely, by the burial of oxyhydroxide-enriched surface sediments, to a subsurface anoxic environment. This situation could only have occurred under oxygenated bottom waters. The presence of Mn carbonates in ancient black shales (and in some carbonate-rich rocks) lends strong support to the notion that these rocks did not necessarily form in anoxic basins but owe their carbon richness to a high supply of organic matter to sediments deposited under oxygenated bottom waters, probably in continental margin settings.

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