The primary variability of the composition and properties of seawater is much greater in the shallow coastal zones than in the main body of ocean water. An inadequate understanding of this variability, as well as different diagenetic environments, severely limit the interpretation of the stable-isotope record of shoalwater carbonates. In order to investigate this primary and diagenetic variability along a Bashkirian-Moscovian platform-to-basin transect, δ13C and δ18O analyses have been performed on more than 1000 matrix micrite, carbonate cement, and brachiopod shell samples. In isotope analysis, these different carbonate materials tend to complement each other, inasmuch as they have different advantages and shortcomings. The resulting data reveal spatial trends in δ13C and δ18O signatures from platform top (lower values) to basin (higher values). In the case of δ13C from pristine brachiopods, this trend can be explained by the long residence time (aging) of platform-top water masses. In the case of brachiopod δ18O, this variance is interpreted to reflect temperature differences between warm surface and colder bottom water separated by a permanent thermocline at about 150 to 200 m beneath the shelf break. Micrite and marine cement isotopic values from the platform interior were reset (lowered) during pervasive early meteoric diagenesis. In contrast, micrite and marine cement isotopic values from the outer platform, slope, and basin show higher values close to the assumed Pennsylvanian seawater isotopic composition. This implies that isotopic data from shoalwater carbonates (including pristine brachiopod shells) might not necessarily reflect paleoceanographic trends of the open-ocean water masses because of changes in coastal water-mass isotope signature and interaction with early meteoric fluids.

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