University Of Tasmania

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Cycles of nutrient trace elements in the Phanerozoic ocean

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 12:08 authored by Ross LargeRoss Large, Jacqueline HalpinJacqueline Halpin, Elena LounejevaElena Lounejeva, Leonid Danyushevsky, Maslennikov, VV, Gregory, D, Sack, PJ, Haines, PW, Long, JA, Charles MakoundiCharles Makoundi, Stepanov, AS
Availability of nutrients in the ocean can be a major factor affecting bioproductivity, burial of carbon and release of oxygen. However, the nutrient trace element (TE) composition of the palaeo-ocean cannot be measured directly. Here we present a comprehensive global dataset on the TE content of marine sedimentary pyrite in black shales, dating back 700 million years, and demonstrate a systematic cyclic evolution of pyrite TE composition with time. The nutrient TE, molybdenum, selenium, cadmium and thallium measured in pyrite, and phosphorus measured on whole rock, rise sharply at 560 to 550 Ma followed by several cycles of TE variation through the Palaeozoic and into theMesozoic. A number of factors could explain the trends.We suggest that variations in continental uplift, erosion and nutrient flux rates were possible drivers of the oceanic nutrient cycles. The cyclic patterns through the Phanerozoic suggest periods of nutrient-rich oceans that fostered key evolutionary events, followed by nutrient-poor oceans that encompass several major mass extinction events.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

Gondwana Research










School of Natural Sciences


Int Assoc Gondwana Research

Place of publication

Kochi Univ, Faculty Science Akebono-Cho 2-5-1, Kochi, Japan, 780-8520

Rights statement

Crown copyright 2015

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences