Bitumen II from the Paleoproterozoic Here’s Your Chance Pb/Zn/Ag deposit: Implications for the analysis of depositional environment and thermal maturity of hydrothermally-altered sediments
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NOTICE: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, Vol. 139 (2014). doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2014.04.035
The formation of sedimentary exhalative (SEDEX) Pb/Zn deposits is linked to ocean euxinia, but recent evidence suggests that ferruginous conditions may have dominated the deep ocean during the Middle Proterozoic, a maximum period for SEDEX distribution. Biomarkers of sulfate-reducing and sulfide-oxidising bacteria are valuable indicators of euxinic conditions in such settings. Organic matter (OM) from SEDEX deposits is often affected by alteration and/or migration, but OM entrapped within the kerogen/mineral matrix (Bitumen II) may be less affected than the freely-extractable OM (Bitumen I). We analysed Bitumen II from the Paleoproterozoic Here’s Your Chance (HYC) Pb/Zn/Ag deposit to find evidence of euxinic conditions in the depositional environment. n-Alkane distributions in Bitumen II are markedly distinct from previously reported Bitumen I. Bitumen II contains long-chain n-alkanes (up to C36 or C38) and a strong even-over-odd distribution in a number of samples, which are 4& to 7& depleted in 13C compared to n-alkanes in Bitumen I and verified as indigenous by comparison with d13C of isolated kerogen.These features are interpreted as evidence of sulfate-reducing and sulfide-oxidising bacteria, confirming that HYC was deposited under euxinic conditions. Bitumen II has the potential to reveal information from OM that is degraded and/or overprinted in Bitumen I. Commonly-used methylphenanthrene maturity ratios give conflicting information as to the relative maturity of Bitumens I and II. Bitumen I contains a far higher proportion of methylated phenanthrenes than Bitumen II. As Bitumen II is sequestered within the kerogen/mineral matrix it may have restricted access to the ‘methyl pool’ of organic compounds that can donate methyl groups to aromatic hydrocarbons. Parameters that include both phenanthrene and methylphenanthrenes do not appear suitable to compare the maturity of Bitumens I and II; hence there is no clear evidence that Bitumen II is of lower thermal maturity than Bitumen I.
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