Violent volcanism, stagnant oceans and some inferences regarding petroleum, strata-bound ores and mass extinctions
Past changes from a well-mixed aerated ocean to a stratified stagnant ocean are indicated by decreasing δ13C of limestone (opposite to prior conclusions) as well as by increasing δ34S of marine sulfates. The proposed stagnant ocean model includes a warm CO 2-enriched atmosphere and a bathyal to abyssal marine system dominated by bacterial components in the food web and by consequent 'light' carbon in organic material and biogenic carbonates. Culminations of prolonged stagnant episodes correspond with marine faunal extinctions of Late Permian and Late Cretaceous time, and the protracted changes and correlations provide evidence against any hypothesis of mass extinction by sudden worldwide catastrophe, including the asteroid impact hypothesis. The Cretaceous stagnant ocean, taken as the prime example, is attributed to climatic warming triggered by volcanic CO 2 (greenhouse effect) and several feedbacks, including decreased Earth albedo and increased sinking of warm evaporite brines instead of aerated polar waters. Marine extinctions are attributed to upward expansion of the oxygen minimum zone and to catastrophic mixing of surface waters with poisonous sulfidic waters of the deeps. The stagnant ocean provided a counterbalance between deep reduction and shallow oxidation, conditions that favored maximal formation of black sulfidic shales, protopetroleum and sedimentary sulfide ores and shallow to mid-depth barite, phosphorite, iron ore, cherty iron formation, and sulfate-bearing red-beds. Trace elements concentrated in stagnant ocean sediments include chalcophile and Pt-group metals, negating claims that Ir provides a unique 'fingerprint' of meteorite impact and cosmic accretion.