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Isotope shifts in the Late Permian of the Delaware Basin, Texas, precisely timed by varved sediments


Closely spaced samples (285 in number) of varved sediments from the Upper Permian in Delaware Basin, Texas, have been analyzed for δ13Ccarb, δ13Corg, δ18Ocarb, Corg, Ccarb, and calcite/dolomite. δ13C records a dramatic rise from -2.8 to +5.7‰ in only 4400 years, detected in three sections across the basin, extrapolating smoothly through a 600-year interruption by a local (west side of the basin) fresh-water inflow evidenced by low δ18O. This continuity and low Corg within the basin, both indicate that the excess net deposition of Corg, necessary to generate the rise in δ13C, took place in the ocean external to the Delaware Basin. Correlation with similar records from the Zechstein Basin suggest that the event was world-wide, although this poses obvious difficulties for the carbon cycle. The rate of rise of δ13C, and its sustained high level, must imply conversions of oxidized carbon to reduced carbon that are very large depending on which reservoirs were involved. © 1983.

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