Sedimentary and stratigraphic architecture of the Duitschland and Rooihoogte formations (Paleoproterozoic, South Africa): implications for tempo of the Great Oxidation Event

Nicolas Beukes, Stefan Schröder

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Determining the tempo and causality of key paleoclimate events recorded in sedimentary strata depends on high-resolution numerical ages and well-constrained stratigraphic correlations at regional and global scale. This requirement is not necessarily met in Precambrian strata due to poorer age resolution, limited preservation, and secondary overprints. A good example includes the Paleoproterozoic Rooihoogte and Duitschland formations in South Africa, which document the disappearance of mass-independent fractionation of sulfur isotopes (MIF-S) and contain glacial diamictites at their base. They are thus key records of Earth’s surface oxygenation during the Great Oxidation Event (GOE). However, previous studies have either correlated these units, resulting in a unidirectional oxidation trend; or have regarded them as successive strata, causing an interpretation of oscillating oxidation. This study uses extensive outcrop and new core material to investigate correlation between these two units, and to establish depositional models. Results show that key stratigraphic markers can be traced around the entire Kaapvaal craton both in outcrop and the subsurface. In particular, the basal Bevets breccia and the top Duitschland breccia are here re-interpreted as two separate units that are present at the base and top of both formations, respectively, supporting correlation of the formations. Consequently, the base of both formations records a major craton-wide event of uplift and karstification, leading to carbonate dissolution and chert brecciation. Erosion of older rocks from across the craton also delivered material for the basal diamictite. The majority of mixed siliciclastic-carbonate sediments were deposited on a storm- and/or delta-influenced shelf. Depositional packages in both formations reflect post-glacial relative sea level rise, followed by progradation of a deltaic, storm or shoreline depositional system. There is a relatively short-lived depositional hiatus to overlying shales of the Timeball Hill Formation. Both Rooihoogte and Duitschland formations thus record only a single glacial event at their base, and a unidirectional trend of oxidation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSouth African Journal of Geology
Early online date22 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2024


  • Paleoproterozoic
  • Great Oxidation Event
  • stratigraphy
  • sedimentology


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