Journal of Earth Science

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 883–892 | Cite as

Spurious thermoluminescence characteristics of the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation (ca. 635–551 Ma) and its implications for marine dissolved organic carbon reservoir

  • Haiyang Wang
  • Chao LiEmail author
  • Chaoyong Hu
  • Shucheng Xie


The Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation (ca. 635–551 Ma) deposited immediately after the last Neoproterozoic glaciations and recorded the most prominent negative excursions of carbonate carbon isotopic composition (δ13Ccarb). These excursions have been interpreted as a result of widespread remineralization of a large dissolved organic carbon (DOC) reservoir in the Ediacaran deep oceans. However, there is no direct evidence so far found in rocks for the proposed DOC reservoir, which devalues such an interpretation. Here, we conducted a detailed study on the glow-curves characteristics and signal origins of spurious thermoluminescence (TL) of the Doushantuo Formation at Jiulongwan in Yangtze Gorges area, South China, through sequential tests under CO2, N2 and air. Spurious TL intensities for test samples before and after removing soluble organic matter via accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) are nearly identical. Further, significant positive correlation between the spurious TL intensity and total inorganic carbon (TIC) content (R 2=0.7) indicate that the Doushantuo spurious TL with the characteristic peak at 393.5 °C from the sequential test is chemiluminescence (CL) which is derived from the oxidation of a type of non-volatile organic matter strongly associated with carbonate mineral lattice (termed as “X-OM”). A most likely explanation is that the X-OM is a type of dissolved organic matter which co-precipitated with carbonate minerals into sediments in the Ediacaran Doushantuo Ocean. Furthermore, a significant exponential negative correlation (R 2=0.55) is observed between the CL data and the isotopic difference between carbonate and coexisting bulk organic matter (i.e., Δ13Ccarb-org, a proxy for remineralization degree of DOC reservoir in proposed DOC hypothesis), suggesting that the X-OM was derived from the oxidation of the DOC reservoir in the Ediacaran Ocean. We thus propose that the X-OM and its CL detected in our study may have recorded the evolution of the possible DOC reservoir in the Ediacaran Doushantuo Ocean. If this is correct, the stratigraphic variations of the CL intensity in the Doushantuo Formation at Jiulongwan support the pulsed oxidation of the DOC reservoir in the Ediacaran Ocean. Our findings indicate that the CL derived from the oxidation of non-volatile organic matter which is strongly associated with carbonate mineral lattices in rocks may provide a feasible approach for probing the evolution of DOC reservoir in the ancient oceans, thus likely provide direct geological evidence for the development of oceanic DOC reservoir in geological times.

Key Words

Doushantuo Formation spurious thermoluminescence chemiluminescence carbonates dissolved organic carbon 


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Copyright information

© China University of Geosciences and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Haiyang Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chao Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chaoyong Hu
    • 1
  • Shucheng Xie
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key laboratory of Biogeology and Environment GeologyChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina
  2. 2.School of Earth SciencesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina

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