Ikaite nucleation at 35°C challenges the use of glendonite as a paleotemperature indicator

Elin Tollefsen, Tonci Balic-Zunic, Carl-Magnus Mörth, Volker Brüchert, Cheng Choo Lee & Alasdair Skelton

Abstract
Glendonites have been found worldwide in marine sediments from the Neoproterozoic Era to the Quaternary Period. The precursor of glendonite, ikaite (CaCO3 · 6H2O), is metastable and has only been observed in nature at temperatures <7 °C. Therefore, glendonites in the sedimentary record are commonly used as paleotemperature indicators. However, several laboratory experiments have shown that the mineral can nucleate at temperatures>7 °C. Here we investigate the nucleation range for ikaite as a function of temperature and pH. We found that ikaite precipitated at temperatures of at least 35 °C at pH 9.3−10.3 from a mixture of natural seawater and sodium carbonate rich solution. At pH 9.3, we observed pseudomorphic replacement of ikaite by porous calcite during the duration of the experiment (c. 5 hours). These results imply that ikaite can form at relatively high temperatures but will then be rapidly replaced by a calcite pseudomorph. This finding challenges the use of glendonites as paleotemperature indicators.

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