Size fraction analysis of fish-derived carbonates in shallow sub-tropical marine environments and a potentially unrecognised origin for peloidal carbonates
Perry, Chris T.
Reason for embargo
Marine bony fish are now known as primary producers of calcium carbonate. Furthermore, within the shallow sub-tropical platform settings of the Bahamas, this production process has been shown to occur at rates relevant to carbonate sediment production budgets. Fish excrete these carbonates as loosely aggregated pellets which, post-excretion, exhibit a range of distinctive crystal morphologies and have mineralogies ranging from low (0–4 mol% MgCO3) to high (4–40 mol% MgCO3) Mg-calcites, aragonite and amorphous carbonate phases. Here we provide the first quantitative assessment of the size fractions of the carbonates produced by a range of tropical fish species, and document the extent of post-excretion carbonate pellet break down under a range of physical agitation conditions. Specifically, we document the morphologies and size fractions of: i) intact pellets at the point of excretion; ii) intact pellets after agitation in seawater; and iii) the particles released from pellets post-disaggregation. Results indicate that fish-derived pellets initially fall within the very fine to very coarse sand fractions. Exposure to conditions of moderate seawater agitation for 30 days results in significant pellet diminution; 66% of initial pellet mass being released as individual particles, whilst 34% is retained as partially intact pellets that are smaller (fine sand-grade) and more rounded than initial pellets. In contrast, pellets exposed to very gently agitated conditions for up to 200 days show little change. Where pellet disaggregation does occur, particles are commonly released as individual clay- and silt-grade crystals. However, some morphotypes (e.g., polycrystalline spheres) can be intergrown and are released as strongly cohesive particle clusters falling within the coarse silt to fine sand fractions. Only very vigorous agitation may disaggregate such particles, resulting in the release of their component clay-grade crystals. We conclude that fish-derived carbonates may thus contribute not only to the mud-fraction of marine carbonates, but also to the fine sand fraction as intergrown particles, and to the fine to coarse sand fractions as intact and partially intact pellets. These experimental data indicate that hydrodynamic regimes local to sites of excretion will influence the generation of carbonates with different size fraction ranges. Rapid pellet disaggregation is more likely in high energy settings, hypothesised to result in redistribution of liberated mud-grade particles to lower energy platform-top settings and/or off-platform. In contrast, pellets excreted in lower energy settings are more likely to be preserved intact, and are thus proposed as a previously unrecognised source of pelletal and peloidal carbonate sediments.
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Sedimentary Geology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Sedimentary Geology, Vol. 314, pp. 17 – 30 DOI: 10.1016/j.sedgeo.2014.10.005
Vol. 314, pp. 17 - 30
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