Weathering in a world without terrestrial life recorded in the Mesoproterozoic Velkerri Formation

Mehrnoush Rafiei, Martin Kennedy*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)
    36 Downloads (Pure)


    Today the terrestrial surface drives biogeochemical cycles on Earth through chemical weathering reactions mediated by the biological influence of soils. Prior to the expansion of life on to land, abiotic weathering may have resulted in different boundary conditions affecting the composition of the biosphere. Here we show a striking difference in weathering produced minerals preserved in the Mesoproterozoic Velkerri Formation. While the bulk chemistry and mineralogy is dominated by illite similar to many modern mudstones, application of a novel microbeam technology reveals that the initial detrital minerals were composed of mica (28%) and feldspar (45%) with only a trace amount (<2%) of typical soil formed clay minerals. The majority of illite and the high Al2O3 fraction previously interpreted as a weathering signal, is present as a replacement of feldspar and mica. These sediments record physical erosion with limited pedogenic clay mineral formation implying fundamentally different weathering pathways.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number3448
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalNature Communications
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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