Terrestrial-marine carbon cycle coupling in ~500-m.y.-old phosphatic brachiopods

Clinton A. Cowan, David L. Fox, Anthony C Runkel, Matthew R. Saltzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Carbon isotope compositions (δ13C) of inarticulate brachiopod shells from Upper Cambrian sandstone in the cratonic interior of Laurentia record a 5‰ positive excursion that correlates biostratigraphically with the global Steptoean positive isotopic carbon excursion. A consistent 6‰ negative displacement in brachiopod δ13C relative to carbonate values is interpreted to represent an onshore-offshore gradient in the isotopic composition of dissolved inorganic carbon in Cambrian seawater. Thus, these ~500-m.y.-old chitinophosphatic brachiopod shells preserve evidence for carbon cycle coupling between the ancient atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial reservoirs in the time before embryophytic land plants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-664
Number of pages4
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Brachiopod
  • Cambrian
  • Chitinophosphatic
  • Inarticulate brachiopod
  • δC


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