Paleoproterozoic snowball earth? Sedimentology and geochemistry of a Huronian glacial cycle
Master of Science
Paleoproterozoic Bruce glacial event
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The study discusses new sedimentological and geochemical results for the Paleoproterozoic Bruce glacial cycle, which represents the second of three glacial cycles within the Huronian Supergroup. This Bruce glacial event is unique for its cap carbonate, the Espanola Formation, which directly overlies glacial diamictites of the Bruce Formation. Cap carbonates are ubiquitous overlying glacial sediments in Neoproterozoic successions and are believed to be precipitated as a direct result of deglaciation. An investigation of the Bruce glacial cycle has led to a summary of the depositional history, wherein the Bruce ice sheet was grounded as it entered the Huronian basin and overrode outwash of the Mississagi Formation. It quickly delaminated, and deposited a uniform blanket of diamict before retreating, followed by the development of a glacial rebound sequence within the Espanola and Serpent Formations. The upper Mississagi Formation directly underlies the glacial diamictites of the Bruce Formation and consists predominantly of planar and trough cross-stratified sandstones. These sandstones were deposited in a distal braided fluvial to deltaic system immediately prior to the advent of the local Bruce ice sheet advance. The Bruce ice sheet was grounded as it entered the basin, which is indicated by the typically sharp contact with the Mississagi Formation and the erosional uptake of Mississagi sands into the base of the Bruce. Delamination of the Bruce ice sheet and development of a floating ice shelf is illustrated by the dominance of massive, laterally continuous diamictites and evidence for current winnowing and iceberg rafting. These units, which constitute the majority of the Bruce Formation, were deposited beneath floating ice. Partial digestion of a carbonate-rich laminated dropstone lithofacies in the uppermost Bruce Formation for δ13Ccarb analysis produced highly negative values that are derived from a methane seepage signature. These same samples also have REE patterns with consistent negative Eu anomalies that are the result of remobilizing reduced Eu2+ via the highly reducing fluids sourced from methane seepage.