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Journal Articles Earth-Science Reviews Year : 2020

Trace elements in methane-seep carbonates: Potentials, limitations, and perspectives

D. Smrzka
  • Function : Author
T. Himmler
  • Function : Author
J. Zwicker
  • Function : Author
Y. Hu
  • Function : Author
P. Monien
  • Function : Author
D. Chen
  • Function : Author
J. Peckmann
  • Function : Author


Marine authigenic carbonates form shallow-water microbialites, mud mounds, and hydrocarbon-seep deposits and contain appreciable amounts of trace elements that yield information on paleoenvironments. Element patterns of some of these carbonates archive metabolic processes through geologic time since many trace elements are redox-sensitive and participate in biological cycling. Trace element distributions in microbial carbonates not only yield information on the redox state of ancient oceans, but also on the chemical evolution of Earth's hydrosphere and atmosphere. Trace element patterns can be used to distinguish marine from freshwater sources, to estimate water depth, and can help identify microbial metabolisms through time. A major issue concerning the use of marine carbonates as a paleoenvironmental archive is assessing the degree of early and late diagenetic alteration, which can modify or even reset the original content and distribution of trace elements. The degree and effect of early and late diagenetic alteration can be evaluated by comparing element contents to organic and other inorganic geochemical proxies. Authigenic hydrocarbon-seep carbonates forming in seafloor sediments are the product of microbial oxidation of methane and other hydrocarbon compounds. Seep carbonates are excellent archives, whose trace element contents yield information on sedimentary redox processes, as well as information on seepage intensity and fluid composition. Trace elements serve as proxies in these highly dynamic environments shaped by fluid seepage and chemosynthesis, and can help to reconstruct the evolution of chemosynthesis-based life at seeps through the Phanerozoic.
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Dates and versions

insu-03688096 , version 1 (03-06-2022)



D. Smrzka, D. Feng, T. Himmler, J. Zwicker, Y. Hu, et al.. Trace elements in methane-seep carbonates: Potentials, limitations, and perspectives. Earth-Science Reviews, 2020, 208, ⟨10.1016/j.earscirev.2020.103263⟩. ⟨insu-03688096⟩
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