Sedimentary vanadium isotope signatures in low oxygen marine conditions

Fei Wu*, Jeremy D. Owens, Florian Scholz, Linqing Huang, Siqi Li, Natascha Riedinger, Larry C. Peterson, Christopher R. German, Sune G. Nielsen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    It has been hypothesized that vanadium (V) isotopes have the potential to track sedimentary redox conditions due to multiple valence states occurring in nature, which might induce variable V isotope fractionation as a function of sedimentary redox state. These characteristica could make V isotopes a useful paleo-redox proxy. However, in order to understand the mechanisms driving V isotope fractionation, it is crucial to build a framework for the depositional and post-depositional controls on sedimentary V isotope records from a diverse set of sedimentary environments. This study, for the first time, investigates the V isotope variations of modern marine sediments deposited under a range of redox environments. Our results document that changes in local redox conditions impart a significant isotopic fractionation from seawater as recorded in the local sedimentary V isotopic signature. Importantly, there is a significant difference between the V isotope composition of sediments deposited in the open ocean setting with oxygen-deficient bottom waters compared to less reducing environments, whereby oxic sediments (benthic oxygen contents > 10 μΜ) exhibit Δoxic = −1.1 ± 0.3‰ and anoxic sediments exhibit Δanoxic = −0.7 ± 0.2‰. Combined with previous studies on seawater particulate and sediment pore fluid analysis, our results indicate that V is mainly delivered and enriched in anoxic sediments through settling particulates. Authigenic V isotope compositions in marine sediments are likely controlled by isotope fractionation between V species bound to particulates and dissolved in seawater, which likely varies with the speciation and adsorption properties of V that are strongly controlled by local redox conditions. In addition, the euxinic Cariaco Basin sediments exhibit distinctive Δeuxinic = −0.4 ± 0.2‰, which is likely influenced by the relationship between the seawater V removal rate and the seawater renewal rate. Our results highlight the direct link between authigenic marine sedimentary V isotope compositions and the overlying local redox conditions. This investigation of V isotopes in modern marine environments provides an initial framework for the utilization of V isotopes to reconstruct ancient redox fluctuations, which has the potential to track subtle redox variations of local oxygen-deficient to low oxygen environments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)134-155
    Number of pages22
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


    • V isotope
    • Isotope fractionation
    • Stable isotopes
    • Redox
    • Suboxic sediments


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