Stable isotopic compositions of carbonates from the Mesoproterozoic Bangemall Group, northwestern Australia

Chem Geol. 1995 Jun 20;123(1-4):153-71. doi: 10.1016/0009-2541(95)00049-r.


Marine carbonate rocks from the Mesoproterozoic Bangemall Group of northwestern Australia show little deviation (+/-1.3%) in whole-rock delta 13C(carb)-values about a mean of -0.5%. This narrow range persists despite close sampling (every 10-20 m) through long sections (up to 2500 m) that are geographically widespread (up to 250 km apart), over many depositional environments (supralittoral to outer shelf), sediment sources (stromatolitic bioherms to detrital calcilutites) and rock types (pure limestones to dolomitic shales). The only major excursions from the norm seem related to unusual environmental or post-depositional processes, as they are correlated with large enrichments (to -3%) or depletions (to -16%) in 18O. Relatively heavy delta 13C-values, up to +2.5%, occur in a single bed of brecciated ferruginous dolostone at a single locality; these abnormal values may result from local evaporitic conditions. Limey and shaley nodular dolostones have delta 13C-values as low as -4.3%, probably caused by remineralization of organic matter during late and patchy dolomitization. Most notably, sharp negative excursions in delta 13C, up to -8.4%, occur in bleached kerogen-free rocks with mineral assemblages of dolomite + quartz + calcite +/- tremolite + talc, reflecting isotopic re-equilibration in thick metamorphic aureoles around dolerite intrusions. General environmental variations are minor, with delta 13C-values of peritidal facies tending to be slightly positive whereas those of subtidal facies are slightly negative. There are no strong secular trends, but subtle fluctuations within the range -2 to +l% can be correlated along the northwestern margin of the basin. This resembles the pattern seen in other Mesoproterozoic successions, but is markedly unlike the heavy background (> +5%) and extreme variations (up to l0%) in delta 13C evident in Neoproterozoic successions of similar thickness and environmental setting. Hence, in contrast to the Neoproterozoic, the global rate of organic carbon burial was probably fairly constant during deposition of the Bangemall Group, and perhaps generally during the Mesoproterozoic, as was the redox state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Calcium Carbonate / analysis*
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Carbonates / analysis*
  • Carbonates / chemistry
  • Earth, Planet
  • Evolution, Planetary
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Geologic Sediments / chemistry
  • Geological Phenomena
  • Geology
  • Magnesium / analysis*
  • Paleontology*
  • Seawater
  • Western Australia


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Carbonates
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Magnesium
  • calcium magnesium carbonate