Sulfur cycling in the aftermath of a 635-Ma snowball glaciation: Evidence for a syn-glacial sulfidic deep ocean

Matthew T. Hurtgen*, Galen P. Halverson, Michael A. Arthur, Paul F. Hoffman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


We have analyzed δ34S (sulfate and pyrite), δ18Ocarbonate and δ13Ccarbonate, and major and trace elemental concentrations, including extractable Fe and Mn phases, in four sections of the Maieberg Formation, the cap-carbonate sequence to the Marinoan glaciation in northern Namibia. δ34Ssulfate profiles and other geochemical characteristics in the basal, transgressive cap dolostone (Keilberg Member) are nearly identical in all sections and indicate deposition from a water mass with very low sulfate concentrations. In the overlying interval that consists of rhythmites deposited during the transgressive high-stand, large geochemical disparities occur between sections that we interpret to have been deposited in open-ocean versus restricted settings. In the former, a large negative shift in δ34Ssulfate of ∼ 20‰ above the cap dolostone accompanies a change in mineralogy from dolomite to limestone, a sharp decrease in δ18O and δ13C, and a positive spike in Fe and Mn concentrations. In the latter, dolomite persists above the cap dolostone, δ34Ssulfate increases abruptly, δ18O and δ13C are invariant, and a spike in Mn and Fe concentrations is present, but subtle. These contrasting geochemical signatures in coeval sections can be explained by strong lateral chemical gradients that developed as cold, euxinic deep water and a cap of warm, oxic, brackish water that flooded the continental shelf during the post-glacial transgression. The geochemical differences between open-ocean and restricted sections diminishes upsection, presumably recording the gradual mixing and homogenization of the waters along the Otavi platform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)551-570
Number of pages20
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - May 30 2006


  • Neoproterozoic
  • cap-carbonate
  • carbon isotopes
  • sulfur isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Sulfur cycling in the aftermath of a 635-Ma snowball glaciation: Evidence for a syn-glacial sulfidic deep ocean'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this