Geyman, Emily C.; Wu, Ziman; Nadeau, Matthew D.; Edmonsond, Stacey; Turner, Andrew; Purkis, Sam J.; Howes, Bolton; Dyer, Blake; Ahm, Anne-Sofie C.; Yao, Nan; Deutsch, Curtis A.; Higgins, John A.; Stolper, Daniel A.; Maloof, Adam C.
Carbonate mud represents one of the most important geochemical archives for reconstructing ancient climatic, environmental, and evolutionary change from the rock record. Mud also represents a major sink in the global carbon cycle. Yet, there remains no consensus about how and where carbonate mud is formed. In this contribution, we present new geochemical data that bear on this problem, including stable isotope and minor and trace element data from carbonate sources in the modern Bahamas such as ooids, corals, foraminifera, and green algae.
The carbon isotopic (δ13C) composition of shallow-water carbonates often is interpreted to reflect the δ13C of the global ocean and is used as a proxy for changes in the global carbon cycle. However, local platform processes, in addition to meteoric and marine diagenesis, may decouple carbonate δ13C from that of the global ocean. To shed light on the extent to which changing sediment grain composition may produce δ13C shifts in the stratigraphic record, we present new δ13C measurements of benthic foraminifera, solitary corals, calcifying green algae, ooids, coated grains, and lime mud from the modern Great Bahama Bank (GBB). This survey of a modern carbonate environment reveals δ13C variability comparable to the largest δ13C excursions in the last two billion years of Earth history.