High-resolution sedimentary records of major and minor elements (Al, Ba, Ca, Sr, Ti), total organic carbon (TOC), and profiles of pore water constituents (View the MathML sourceSO42-, CH4, Ca2+, Ba2+, Mg2+, alkalinity) were obtained for two gravity cores (core 755, 501 m water depth and core 214, 1686 m water depth) from the northwestern Black Sea. The records were examined in order to gain insight into the cycling of Ba in anoxic marine sediments characterized by a shallow sulfate–methane transition (SMT) as well as the applicability of barite as a primary productivity proxy in such a setting. The Ba records are strongly overprinted by diagenetic barite (BaSO4) precipitation and remobilization; authigenic Ba enrichments were found at both sites at and slightly above the current SMT. Transport reaction modeling was applied to simulate the migration of the SMT during the changing geochemical conditions after the Holocene seawater intrusion into the Black Sea. Based on this, sediment intervals affected by diagenetic Ba redistribution were identified. Results reveal that the intense overprint of Ba and Baxs (Ba excess above detrital average) strongly limits its correlation to primary productivity. These findings have implications for other modern and ancient anoxic basins, such as sections covering the Oceanic Anoxic Events which Ba is frequently used as a primary productivity indicator. Our study also demonstrates the limitations concerning the use of Baxs as a tracer for downward migrations of the SMT: due to high sedimentation rates at the investigated sites, diagenetic barite fronts are buried below the SMT within a relatively short period. Thus, ‘relict’ barite fronts would only be preserved for a few thousands of years, if at all.
EPIC Alfred Wegener Institut