Seawater chemistry of a modern subtropical ‘epeiric’ sea: Spatial variability and effects of organic decomposition

Chelsea L. Pederson, Yuzhu Ge, Stephen W. Lokier, Peter K. Swart, Hubert Vonhof, Harald Strauss, Simon Schurr, Flavia Fiorini, Sylvia Riechelmann, Tobias Licha, Adrian Immenhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Direct studies of recent epeiric seawater chemistry and their geological significance are relatively few compared to the far more abundant studies from ancient epeiric marine carbonates. Acknowledging the limitations of analogue studies in the modern glaciated world, we propose that the recent Abu Dhabi offshore and lagoonal areas share important attributes with the shallow-marine coastal zones of a subtropical epeiric carbonate sea. The study area in Abu Dhabi is dwarfed by the vast epeiric seas of the geological past, but its seawater properties and related geochemistry have relevance for paleoenvironmental interpretations for similar ancient systems. This study documents the geochemical properties of seawater along the Abu Dhabi coast, and discusses their trends within a spatial context. Results show a positive correlation between salinity, temperature, elemental concentrations, and oxygen isotopic composition of seawater, indicating a significant influence of evaporation on seawater chemistry. A distal-to-proximal negative correlation between seawater Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca ratios may be related to a landward increase in abundance of high-Mg calcite foraminifera. After normalization to chloride, seawater elemental (Ca2+, Mg2+, Sr2+) concentrations and alkalinity show decreasing trends in a landward direction, consistent with seawater aging from the open marine to restricted lagoonal settings. Lower ΔAlk (alkalinity change): ΔCa2+ (Ca2+ change) ratios in seawater compared with the theoretical value, and more negative δ13CDIC values relative to typical (sub)tropical oceans in the study area indicate an influence of factors apart from CaCO3 precipitation on properties of aged seawater. An input of alkalinity and 12C-enriched carbon by organic carbon decomposition (via sulfate reduction) during early diagenesis is proposed to account for these deviations from typical values. The input of alkalinity and 12C-enriched carbon by organic carbon decomposition may be further related to reduced seawater pCO2 and early-marine cementation. Findings discussed here suggest that organic carbon decomposition during early-marine diagenesis may influence the geochemical properties of the coastal areas of shallow epeiric seas, and thus assumedly produce significant differences in proxy data compared with those from carbonates deposited in open oceans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages19
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume314
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Keywords

  • Carbon cycle
  • Elements
  • Epeiric sea
  • Geochemistry
  • Isotopes
  • Seawater

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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