Authigenic pyrite framboids in sedimentary facies of the Mount Wawel Formation (Eocene), King George Island, West Antarctica

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Authigenic pyrite framboids in sedimentary facies of the Mount Wawel Formation (Eocene), King George Island, West Antarctica

Pyrite framboids occur in loose blocks of plant-bearing clastic rocks related to volcano-sedimentary succession of the Mount Wawel Formation (Eocene) in the Dragon and Wanda glaciers area at Admiralty Bay, King George Island, West Antarctica. They were investigated by means of optical and scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and isotopic analysis of pyritic sulphur. The results suggest that the pyrite formed as a result of production of hydrogen sulphide by sulphate reducing bacteria in near surface sedimentary environments. Strongly negative Δ34SVCDT values of pyrite (-30 - -25 ‰) support its bacterial origin. Perfect shapes of framboids resulted from their growth in the open pore space of clastic sediments. The abundance of framboids at certain sedimentary levels and the lack or negligible content of euhedral pyrite suggest pulses of high supersaturation with respect to iron monosulphides. The dominance of framboids of small sizes (8-16 μm) and their homogeneous distribution at these levels point to recurrent development of a laterally continuous anoxic sulphidic zone below the sediment surface. Sedimentary environments of the Mount Wawel Formation developed on islands of the young magmatic arc in the northern Antarctic Peninsula region. They embraced stagnant and flowing water masses and swamps located in valleys, depressions, and coastal areas that were covered by dense vegetation. Extensive deposition and diagenesis of plant detritus in these environments promoted anoxic conditions in the sediments, and a supply of marine and/or volcanogenic sulphate enabled its bacterial reduction, precipitation of iron monosulphides, and their transformation to pyrite framboids.

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