Co-existing two distinct formation mechanisms of micro-scale ooid-like manganese carbonates hosted in Cryogenian organic-rich black shales in South China

Jiayi Ai, Sandra Siljeström, Ningning Zhong*, Jianfa Chen, Tieguan Wang, Nansheng Qiu, Simon C. George

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Manganese-rich deposits in the lower member of the Datangpo Formation (DTP) (ca. 663–654 Ma) in South China formed in the aftermath of the Cryogenian Sturtian glaciation. The Mn in the DTP occurs dominantly as rhodochrosite and Ca-rhodochrosite. A hydrothermal origin of the Mn2+ is shown by the rare earth element distribution and significantly high Mn/Fe ratios (3–19, average = 10.1). Previous studies suggested a microbially-mediated process for controlling the DTP black-shale hosted Mn carbonate deposits. However, detailed reports on the formation mechanisms of micro-scale (<2–5 μm) ooid-like Mn carbonates in the DTP have rarely been published. Systematic petrography and geochemical analyses in this study demonstrate the coexistence of two types of micro-scale ooidal-like Mn carbonates formed through two distinct mechanisms, either dominated by microbially-mediated or physiochemically-forced pathways. The Type I Mn carbonate has relatively larger grain size of 2–5 μm and exhibits a radial-concentric microfabric that shows signs of growth banding in the form of alternating light and dark laminae, which mainly express variation in Ca and Mn concentrations. The initial precipitation phase of the Type I Mn carbonate is interpreted to be Mn oxide/hydroxide, based on positive Ce anomalies and selective enrichments of particular trace elements. Novel evidence indicates that the capture of Mn as a carbonate phase directly from the water column by primarily precipitated calcite, which is referred to as the Type II Mn carbonate, has also contributed to the DTP Mn-rich deposits. Multiple roles of organic matter in Mn carbonate formation have been established: (1) catalysed Mn-redox cycling; (2) trapping and transportation of initial mineral precipitates to sediments; (3) serving as a carbon source; (4) regulating the morphology of the Mn carbonate. As a key link for understanding Cryogenian carbon and Mn cycling, specific formation pathways for the DTP Mn-carbonates are likely to have been controlled by given atmospheric-oceanic compositions (including oxygen level, pCO2, and redox conditions) in response to major geological and biological events during the interglacial period. In turn, massive storage of inorganic carbon and phosphorous in Mn carbonate phases would have had a substantial influence on biogeochemical carbon cycling during the Cryogenian.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107091
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalPrecambrian Research
Early online date28 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • Black shale
  • Carbon cycle
  • Cryogenian
  • Manganese deposit
  • Microbial mediation
  • Physiochemical pathway


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