Radiogenic Sr and Stable C and O Isotopes Across Precambrian-Cambrian Transition in Marine Carbonatic Phosphorites of Malyi Karatau (Kazakhstan)—Implications for Paleo-environmental Change

J. A. Stammeier, D. Hippler, O. Nebel, A. Leis, C. Grengg, F. Mittermayr, S. A. Kasemann, M. Dietzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The Precambrian-Cambrian (PЄ-Є) transition is a unique period in Earth's history known for the “Cambrian Explosion.” Here we present a continuous radiogenic and stable isotope ( 87 Sr/ 86 Sr, δ 13 C VPDB, carb , and δ 18 O VPDB, carb ) and elemental (including rare earth elements) record across the PЄ-Є transition, preserved in phosphatic and carbonate shallow-water deposits from two sections (Koksu and Kyrshabakty) in Kazakhstan. Microstructure, trace, and rare earth elements concentrations reflect near-primary preservation. δ 13 C VPDB, carb data (−12.1‰ to 3.3‰) record formation conditions at a time of severe geodynamic changes. Negative δ 13 C VPDB, carb at the PЄ-Є boundary resemble the Basal Cambrian Carbon Anomaly. Average δ 18 O VPDB, carb values of −11.7 ± 3.8‰ are suggested to represent near-primary signals and can be explained by isotopically lighter past sea water and elevated temperature during precipitation compared to present-day conditions. Initial 87 Sr/ 86 Sr of the carbonate and phosphate fraction are in the range of 0.7086–0.7112 at the Koksu section and 0.7082–0.7136 at the Kyrshabakty section. This is in general agreement with the seawater 87 Sr/ 86 Sr evolution during the Early Cambrian. In this study, we present a refined 87 Sr/ 86 Sr seawater evolution, highlighting an extreme positive Sr isotope excursion at the PЄ-Є transition, which is suggested to be indicative for enhanced continental weathering and an increase in nutrient runoff into shallow ocean waters. This extreme geodynamic event may have served as a driving force for enhanced biologic activity in the lead up to the Cambrian Explosion, where phosphatic shallow-water deposits from Kazakhstan constitute a valuable paleo-environmental archive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-23
Number of pages21
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Sr/ Sr seawater evolution
  • Cambrian Explosion
  • Kazakhstan
  • phosphorite deposits
  • Precambrian-Cambrian transition
  • stable C and O isotopes

Cite this