Strongly peraluminous granites provide independent evidence for an increase in biomass burial across the Precambrian-Phanerozoic boundary

Sami Mikhail*, Eva E. Stueeken*, Toby J. Boocock, Megan Athey, Nick Mappin, Adrian J. Boyce, Janne Liebmann, Christopher J. Spencer, Claire E. Bucholz

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Strongly peraluminous granites (SPGs) are generated by the partial melting of sedimentary rocks and can thus provide a novel archive to reveal secular trends in Earth’s environmental history that integrate siliciclastic sedimentary lithologies. The nitrogen (N) content of Archean, Proterozoic, and Phanerozoic SPGs reveals a systematic increase across the Precambrian-Phanerozoic boundary. This rise is supported by a coeval increase in the phosphorus (P) contents of SPGs. Collectively, these data are most parsimoniously explained by an absolute increase in biomass burial in the late Proterozoic or early Phanerozoic by a factor of approximately 5 and up to 8. The Precambrian-Phanerozoic transition was a time of progressive oxygenation of surface environments paired with major biological innovations, including the rise of eukaryotic algae to ecological dominance. Because oxygenation suppresses biomass preservation in sediments, the increase in net biomass burial preserved in SPGs reveals an expansion of the biosphere and an increase in primary production across this interval.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeology
VolumeEarly View
Early online date17 Nov 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Nov 2023

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