A long-lasting steady period of isotopically heavy carbon in the late Silurian ocean: evolution of the δ13C record and its significance for an integrated δ13C, graptolite and conodont stratigraphy


Authors: Frýda J, Manda Š

Published in: Bulletin of Geosciences, volume 88, issue 2; pages: 463 - 482; Received 23 January 2013; Accepted in revised form 27 May 2013; Online 3 June 2013

Keywords: Silurian, mid-Ludfordian carbon isotope excursion, global oceanic isotopic reservoir, integrated δ13C, graptolite and conodont stratigraphy, LAU and Kozlowskii bioevents,

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The mid-Ludfordian carbon isotope excursion (CIE) is probably the most intensively studied of all Palaeozoic geochemical events. This is mainly due to the fact that it represents the largest perturbation of the global carbon cycle during the entire Phanerozoic and the second largest in Earth’s history. Herein an uninterrupted and complete δ13C record is presented for the first time across the mid-Ludfordian carbon isotope excursion from the middle palaeolatitudes (Barrandian, Perunica, northern peri-Gondwana). Similar evolution of the δ13C geochemical anomaly identified in middle palaeolatitudinal and palaeotropical regions enables three distinct chemostratigraphic zones (R-Zone, S-Zone and F-Zone) to be established, differentiated on the basis of their δ13C dynamics. Application of the δ13C chemostratigraphy has considerably improved correlation of earlier described Barrandian sections and allows re-evaluation of the duration of several gaps in sedimentary records. Detailed comparison of the δ13C chemostratigraphic zonation with graptolite and conodont biostratigraphic zonations has resulted in a proposal for an integrated δ13C, graptolite and conodont stratigraphy for the mid-Ludfordian interval. Analysis of the available δ13C data on the global mid-Ludfordian CIE revealed that high δ13C values attain a similar level during a long-lasting steady period. There is no statistically significant difference in the level of these high values among the δ13C records obtained from different palaeocontinents. This fact suggests that the mid-Ludfordian δ13C anomaly from different palaeocontinents originated from the same global oceanic isotopic reservoir rather than being independently evolved within small restricted epeiric basins.


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