Temperature limits for preservation of primary calcite clumped isotope paleotemperatures Academic Article uri icon


  • Solid-state reordering of C-O bonds in the calcite lattice can alter the clumped isotope composition of paleotemperature archives such as fossil brachiopod shells without inducing significant changes in shell microstructure and trace element concentrations, metrics commonly used to gauge preservation quality. To correctly interpret the paleoenvironmental significance of clumped isotope-derived paleotemperatures, it is necessary to understand the temperature-time domain in which solid-state C-O bond reordering is important. We address this question using a combination of laboratory and natural geological experiments on Paleozoic brachiopod shells. The laboratory experiments involve heating fossil brachiopod calcite at different temperatures and times to directly observe rates of 13C-18O bond reordering. The resulting Arrhenius parameters are indistinguishable from values previously determined for an optical calcite with similar trace element compositions. We develop an alternative kinetic model for reordering that accounts for non-first-order reaction progress observed during the initial several hundred minutes of laboratory heating experiments, and show that the simplified first-order approximation model (Passey and Henkes, 2012) predicts reaction progress equally well for temperatures and timescales relevant to sedimentary basins. We evaluate our laboratory-based rate predictions by studying brachiopod calcite from several sedimentary basins with independently constrained burial temperature histories. Specifically, we use the laboratory-derived Arrhenius parameters to predict the evolution of brachiopod calcite clumped isotope compositions during successive one million-year time steps reflecting the burial and exhumation temperature paths of each basin. While this exercise is limited by the relatively large uncertainties in the temperature histories of these basins, we find general correspondence, within error, between predicted and observed clumped isotope values. We present simplified temperature-time diagrams for calcite showing domains where primary clumped isotope compositions will be preserved, partially reordered, and fully reordered. In conclusion, calcite samples dwelling at ~100C or lower for 106-108 year timescales should not be affected by solid-state C-O bond reordering. 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Henkes, G. A., Passey, B. H., Grossman, E. L., Shenton, B. J., Perez-Huerta, A., & Yancey, T. E.

complete list of authors

  • Henkes, Gregory A||Passey, Benjamin H||Grossman, Ethan L||Shenton, Brock J||Perez-Huerta, Alberto||Yancey, Thomas E

publication date

  • January 1, 2014 11:11 AM