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Seawater Sulfur Isotope Fluctuations in the Cretaceous

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Science  11 Jun 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5677, pp. 1663-1665
DOI: 10.1126/science.1095258

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Abstract

The exogenic sulfur cycle is tightly coupled with the carbon and oxygen cycles, and therefore a central component of Earth's biogeochemistry. Here we present a high-resolution record of the sulfur isotopic composition of seawater sulfate for the Cretaceous. The general enrichment of isotopically light sulfur that prevailed during the Cretaceous may have been due to increased volcanic and hydrothermal activity. Two excursions toward isotopically lighter sulfur represent periods of lower rates of pyrite burial, implying a shift in the location of organic carbon burial to terrestrial or open-ocean settings. The concurrent changes in seawater sulfur and inorganic carbon isotopic compositions imply short-term variability in atmospheric oxygen partial pressure.

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