Laboratory calibration of the calcium carbonate clumped isotope thermometer in the 25–250 C temperature range

Many fields of Earth sciences benefit from the knowledge of mineral formation temperatures. For example, carbonates are extensively used for reconstruction of the Earth’s past climatic variations by determining ocean, lake, and soil paleotemperatures. Furthermore, diagenetic minerals and their formation or alteration temperature may provide information about the burial history of important geological units and can have practical applications, for instance, for reconstructing the geochemical and thermal histories of hydrocarbon reservoirs. Carbonate clumped isotope thermometry is a relatively new technique that can provide the formation temperature of carbonate minerals without requiring a priori knowledge of the isotopic composition of the initial solution. It is based on the temperature-dependent abundance of the rare 13C–18O bonds in carbonate minerals, specified as a _47 value. The clumped isotope thermometer has been calibrated experimentally from 1 °C to 70 °C. However, higher temperatures that are relevant to geological processes have so far not been directly calibrated in the laboratory. In order to close this calibration gap and to provide a robust basis for the application of clumped isotopes to high-temperature geological processes we precipitated CaCO3 (mainly calcite) in the laboratory between 23 and 250 °C. We used two different precipitation techniques: first, minerals were precipitated from a CaCO3 supersaturated solution at atmospheric pressure (23–91 °C), and, second, from a solution resulting from the mixing of CaCl2 and NaHCO3 in a pressurized reaction vessel at a pressure of up to 80 bar (25–250 °C). The calibration lines of both experimental approaches overlap and agree in the slopes with theoretical estimates and with other calibration experiments in which carbonates were reacted with phosphoric acid at temperatures above 70 °C. Our study suggests a universal _47-T calibration (T in K, _47 in ‰): This new _47-T calibration (given in the absolute reference frame), that extends the experimentally calibrated temperature range for clumped isotopes to 250 °C, can be applied to carbonates that grew at intermediate temperatures (20–250 °C).

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