>2.7 Ga metamorphic peridotites from southeast Greenland record the oxygen isotope composition of Archean seawater

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  • Stefan T.M. Peters
  • Szilas, Kristoffer
  • Sukanya Sengupta
  • Christopher L. Kirkland
  • Dieter Garbe-Schönberg
  • Andreas Pack

The δ18O value of seawater is presently buffered by high-temperature hydrothermal alteration and low-temperature weathering of lithospheric rocks. It is much debated whether the δ18O of seawater has been buffered to this steady-state value throughout Earth's history or, alternatively, whether it gradually increased towards the present value since the Archean. A third possibility is that the δ18O of seawater was buffered at a higher value before continents emerged, and has been buffered at its current value (δ18O ∼ −1‰) since the emergence of continents. In this contribution, we reconstruct the δ18O of Archean seawater from triple oxygen isotope (δ17O, δ18O) variations in >2.7 Ga ultramafic rocks that reacted with fluids that, in turn, had been derived from seawater in the Archean. The samples that were studied are peridotites from the Ivnartivaq complex, an ultramafic lens in the Archean Kuummiut terrane (Rae craton, southeast Greenland) that have unusually low δ18O values for peridotites (in olivine, 1.7‰≤δ18O≤4.6‰, relative to VSMOW). Bulk rock trace element concentrations, mineral compositions and U-Pb dating of zircon grains in the peridotites indicate that these samples are metamorphic peridotites, that formed by the dehydration of serpentinites ∼2.7 Ga ago. The serpentinite protoliths, in turn, had formed by alteration of ultramafic cumulate rocks at high temperatures (250–450 °C) by fluids that were derived from seawater. Triple oxygen isotope variations in olivine from the peridotites indicate that the fluids could not have been derived from seawater with a significantly higher or lower δ18O value than that of seawater in the Phanerozoic, but could have been derived from seawater with a value of δ18O ∼ −1‰, i.e., the modern (ice-free) seawater composition. We conclude that the δ18O of seawater had reached its current steady state value by 2.7 Ga ago.

TidsskriftEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatusUdgivet - 2020

ID: 243076031