Isotopic reconstruction of iron oxidation-reduction process based on an Archean Ocean analogue

Xi Yang, Qingjun Guo, Valeria Boyko, Khoren Avetisyan, Alyssa J. Findlay, Fang Huang, Zhongliang Wang, Zhenwu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The chemical composition and redox conditions of the Precambrian ocean are key factors for reconstructing the temporal evolution of atmospheric oxygen through time. In particular, the isotopic composition of iron are useful proxies for reconstructing paleo-ocean environments. Yet, respective processes and related signatures are poorly constrained, hindering the reconstruction of iron redox mechanisms in the Archean ocean. This study centers on Sihailongwan Lake, a stratified water body with a euxinic lower water column considered as an Archean ocean analogue. Results show that the anaerobic oxidation layer is so different from other similar lakes in which dissolved Fe oxidation is present in redoxcline layer. And the fractionation factor between ferrous Fe and iron hydroxide observed in nature water body of Sihailongwan Lake reaches to 2.6‰, which would benefit the production of the oxidations of BIF in sediment. By the spatial distribution of Fe isotope, the benthic water in autumn and the hypolimnetic anoxic water in spring has been identified as iron sulfide zone, where iron isotopic fractionation factor during iron sulfide formation is 1.16‰, accounting for partial scavenging of dissolved Fe(II) with an associated isotopic fractionation. However, pyrite in the sediment records the iron isotopic signal from the redoxcline but not in the iron sulfide or oxide zones of the water column. Above findings indicate that neither the iron isotope fractionation during partial transfer of ferrous iron to iron sulfide nor the partial oxidation of ferrous iron are recorded as pyrite in sedimentary rock. Importantly, the signal of Fe isotopic fractionation in water was archived in the suspended particulate matter and transferred into the sediment, rather than via ferrous iron directly deposited in the sediment. This study reveals that Fe isotopes from modern natural environments are useful proxies for reconstructing iron oxidation-reduction process during Earth's early history.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152609
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Apr 2022


  • Archean
  • Dissimilatory iron reduction
  • Iron isotopes
  • Iron oxidation-reduction process
  • Modern lake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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