Evaluating the fidelity of the cerium paleoredox tracer during variable carbonate diagenesis on the Great Bahamas Bank

Xiao Ming Liu, Dalton S. Hardisty, Timothy W. Lyons, Peter K. Swart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Inferring redox conditions for ancient marine environments is critical to our understanding of biogeochemical cycles over Earth history. Because of the redox sensitivity of cerium (Ce) relative to other rare earth elements (REEs) and its uptake in marine carbonates, the Ce anomaly (Ce/Ce*) is widely applied to ancient carbonates as a proxy for local redox conditions in the water column. However, carbonate sediments and rocks are particularly vulnerable to multiple stages and styles of post-depositional diagenetic alteration where the diagenetic redox conditions and fluid compositions can vary widely from overlying seawater. Evaluations of the effects of this post-depositional alteration for the Ce anomaly have mostly been limited to ancient carbonate rocks rather than recent, well-characterized analog facies. Here, we report on analyses of REE plus yttrium concentrations (REY) and Ce anomalies in bulk carbonate samples from drill cores collected in the Bahamas (Clino and Unda) that allow us to track loss or retention of primary signals of initial oxic deposition through a range of subsequent alteration scenarios mostly under anoxic conditions. Specifically, these materials have experienced well-constrained overprints linked to meteoric processes and marine burial diagenesis, including dolomitization. Our results show that, regardless of mineralogy, diagenetic fluid composition, and redox state, the REY patterns in these carbonates, including the Ce anomaly, are similar to those of modern oxic seawater, indicating that they likely record the seawater signatures of primary deposition. As such, the Ce anomaly in shallow marine carbonates has the potential to preserve records of primary deposition even when subject to multiple stages and styles of diagenetic alteration, confirming its utility in studies of ancient marine redox.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-42
Number of pages18
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


  • Carbonate diagenesis
  • Cerium anomaly
  • Dolomitization
  • Marine carbonate
  • Rare earth elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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