Archean to Paleoproterozoic seawater halogen ratios recorded by fluid inclusions in chert and hydrothermal quartz

Raymond Burgess, Sarah Goldsmith, Hirochika Sumino, Jamie Gilmour, Bernard Marty, Magali Pujol, Kurt Konhauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past changes in the halogen composition of seawater are anticipated based on the differing behavior of chlorine and bromine which are strongly partitioned into seawater, relative to iodine, which is extremely depleted in modern seawater and enriched in marine sediments due to biological uptake. Here we assess the use of chert, a chemical sediment that precipitated throughout the Precambrian, as a proxy for halide ratios in ancient seawater. We determine a set of criteria which can be used to assess the primary nature of halogens, and show that ancient seawater Br/Cl and I/Cl ratios can be resolved in chert samples from the 2.5 Ga Dales Gorge Member of the Brockman Banded Iron Formation, Hamersley Group, Western Australia. The values determined of Br/Cl  2 × 10-3 M and I/Cl  30 × 10-6 M are comparable to fluid inclusions in hydrothermal quartz from the 3.5 Ga North Pole area, Pilbara Craton, Western Australia that were the subject of previous reconstructions of ancient ocean salinity and atmospheric isotopic composition. Whilst the similar Br/Cl and I/Cl values indicate no substantial change in the ocean halide system over the interval 2.5-3.5Ga, compared to modern seawater, the ancient ocean was enriched in Br and I relative to Cl. The I/Cl value is intermediate between bulk Earth (assumed chondritic) and the modern seawater ratio which can be explained by a smaller organic reservoir, as this is the major control on marine iodine at the present day. Br/Cl ratios are about 30% higher than both modern seawater and contemporary seafloor hydrothermal systems, perhaps indicating a stronger mantle buffering of seawater halogens during the Archean.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317
Number of pages1325
JournalThe American Mineralogist
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


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