The largest Fe isotope fractionations occur during redox changes, as well as differences in bonding, but these are expressed only in natural environments in which significant quantities of Fe may be mobilized and separated. At the circumneutral pH of most low-temperature aqueous systems, Fe2+ is the most common species for mobilizing Fe, and Fe2+ has low 56Fe/54Fe ratios relative to Fe3+-bearing minerals. Of the variety of abiologic and biologic processes that involve redox or bonding changes, microbial Fe3+ reduction produces the largest quantities of isotopically distinct Fe by several orders of magnitude relative to abiologic processes and hence plays a major role in producing Fe isotope variations on Earth. In modern Earth, the mass of Fe cycled through redox boundaries is small, but in the Archean it was much larger, reflecting juxtaposition of large inventories of Fe2+ and Fe3+. Development of photosynthesis produced large quantities of Fe3+ and organic carbon that fueled a major expansion in microbial Fe3+ reduction in the late Archean, perhaps starting as early as ∼3 Ga. The Fe isotope fingerprint of microbial Fe3+ reduction decreases in the sedimentary rock record between ∼2.4 and 2.2 Ga, reflecting increased bacterial sulfate reduction and a concomitant decrease in the availability of reactive iron to support microbial Fe3+ reduction. The temporal C, S, and Fe isotope record therefore reflects the interplay of changing microbial metabolisms over Earth's history.

Keyword(s): diagenesisevolutionlifePrecambrian

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error