Silicon Isotope Geochemistry: Fractionation Linked to Silicon Complexations and Its Geological Applications.


State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources, School of Earth Resources, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China. [Email]


The fundamental advances in silicon isotope geochemistry have been systematically demonstrated in this work. Firstly, the continuous modifications in analytical approaches and the silicon isotope variations in major reservoirs and geological processes have been briefly introduced. Secondly, the silicon isotope fractionation linked to silicon complexation/coordination and thermodynamic conditions have been extensively stressed, including silicate minerals with variable structures and chemical compositions, silica precipitation and diagenesis, chemical weathering of crustal surface silicate rocks, biological uptake, global oceanic Si cycle, etc. Finally, the relevant geological implications for meteorites and planetary core formation, ore deposits formation, hydrothermal fluids activities, and silicon cycling in hydrosphere have been summarized. Compared to the thermodynamic isotope fractionation of silicon associated with high-temperature processes, that in low-temperature geological processes is much more significant (e.g., chemical weathering, biogenic/non-biogenic precipitation, biological uptake, adsorption, etc.). The equilibrium silicon isotope fractionation during the mantle-core differentiation resulted in the observed heavy isotope composition of the bulk silicate Earth (BSE). The equilibrium fractionation of silicon isotopes among silicate minerals are sensitive to the Si-O bond length, Si coordination numbers (CN), the polymerization degrees of silicate unites, and the electronegativity of cations in minerals. The preferential enrichment of different speciation of dissoluble Si (DSi) (e.g., silicic acid H₄SiO₄⁰ (H4) and H₃SiO₄- (H3)) in silica precipitation and diagenesis, and chemical weathering, lead to predominately positive Si isotope signatures in continental surface waters, in which the dynamic fractionation of silicon isotope could be well described by the Rayleigh fractionation model. The role of complexation in biological fractionations of silicon isotopes is more complicated, likely involving several enzymatic processes and active transport proteins. The integrated understanding greatly strengthens the potential of δ30Si proxy for reconstructing the paleo terrestrial and oceanic environments, and exploring the meteorites and planetary core formation, as well as constraining ore deposits and hydrothermal fluid activity.


dynamic isotope fractionation,equilibrium isotope fractionation,silicon isotopes,speciation/coordination of silicon,the Rayleigh fractionation model,