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Biogenic calcretes associated with a regional Cretaceous to Paleogene subaerial unconformity and an intraformational composite (polygenic) surface in Upper Cretaceous intra-platform peritidal successions in central Dalmatia and eastern Istria, Croatia (Adriatic-Dinaridic Carbonate Platform), were analyzed for their δ13C and δ18O signatures in order to provide insight into the conditions of subaerial exposure and calcrete development. The distinctly negative δ13C signatures of biogenic calcretes marking the regional subaerial unconformity differ considerably from the δ13C values of the host marine limestones. This indicates carbon isotope exchange of primary marine CaCO3 with CO2 released by root and rhizomicrobial respiration and subsequent precipitation of pedogenic calcrete. The range of δ13C (from -13.1 to -8.2 ‰ Vienna PeeDee Belemnite standard, VPDB) and δ18O (from -10.1 to -6.1 ‰ VPDB) values of calcretes are similar to those reported from calcretes elsewhere, and the δ13C values of biogenic calcretes with typical Microcodium aggregates (-13.1 to -12.3 ‰ VPDB) at the Šibenik locality are very close to, or at the lower limit of, values for soil carbonates formed in isotopic equilibrium with soil CO2. These values are expected for authigenic pedogenic carbonates formed under the influence of C3 plant communities, without influence from heavier carbon from pre-existing carbonate and lack of input of atmospheric CO2. Such low δ13C values support the interpretation of Microcodium aggregates as being precipitated under a direct biological control within the soil, although the relationship between formation mechanisms and stable isotope signatures of Microcodium needs further investigation. The δ13C values (-4.4 to -3.6 ‰ VPDB) of rhizogenic calcretes formed inside firmground Thalassinoides burrows of the composite surface at the Šibenik locality are more negative than the δ13C values of the host marine limestones, which confirms that the composite surface went through a phase of meteoric pedo(dia)genesis. However, the overall δ13C values of calcretes are less negative than expected, which might reflect contamination from associated primary marine carbonate. This study represents the first detailed stable isotope investigation of calcretes from carbonate successions of the External Dinarides, and the results may be applied to discontinuities present in other shallow-water carbonate rock successions.


Biogenic calcretes, Croatia, Discontinuity surfaces, Pedo(dia)genesis, Upper Cretaceous





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© 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


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