Intracrystalline distortions (like undulose extinction, dislocations, and subgrain boundaries) in olivine from naturally-deformed peridotites is generally taken as a sign of dislocation creep. However, similar features in olivine phenocrysts that were found in basaltic magmas are still not well understood. In particular, whether subgrain boundaries in olivine phenocrysts arise from plastic deformation or grain growth is still debated (In the latter case, they are essentially grain boundaries but not subgrain boundaries. Therefore, we used hereinafter subgrain-boundary-like structures instead of subgrain boundaries to name this kind of intracrystalline distortion). Here we carried out a detailed study on dislocations and subgrain-boundary-like (SG-like) structures in olivine phenocrysts from two Hawaiian basaltic lavas by means of petrographic microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Abundant and complex dislocation substructures (free dislocations, dislocation walls, and dislocation tangles) were observed in the decorated olivine grains, similar to those in olivine from peridotite xenoliths entrained by the Hawaiian basalts. The measured average dislocation density is 2.9 ± 1.3 × 1011 m-2, and is three to five orders of magnitude higher than that in laboratory-synthesized, undeformed olivine. TEM observations on samples cut across the SG-like structures by FIB (focused ion beam) demonstrated that this kind of structures is made of an array of dislocations. These observations clearly indicate that these structures are real subgrain boundaries rather than grain boundaries. These facts suggested that the observed high dislocation densities and subgrain boundaries were not resulted from crystal crystallization/growth, but were formed by plastic deformation. These deformation features do not prove that the olivine phenocrysts (and implicitly mantle xenoliths) were deformed after their capture by the basaltic magmas, but can be ascribed to a former deformation event in a dunitic cumulate, which was formed by magmatic fractionation, then plastically deformed, and finally disaggregated and captured by the basaltic magma that brought them to the surface.
The nitrogen isotope compositions (δ15N) of sedimentary rocks can provide information about the nutrient N cycling and redox conditions that may have played important roles in biological evolution in Earth’s history. Although considerable δ15N data for the Precambrian have been published, there is a large gap during the early Neoproterozoic that restrains our understanding of the linkages among N cycling, ocean redox changes and biological evolution during this key period. Here, we report bulk δ15N and organic carbon isotope (δ13Corg) compositions as well as the total nitrogen (TN) and total organic carbon (TOC) contents from the Tonian fossiliferous Liulaobei Formation in the southern part of the North China Platform. The δ15N in the study section is dominated by very stable values centering around +4.3‰, which is moderately lower than in modern sediments (~ +6‰). These positive δ15N values were attributed to partial denitrification under low primary productivity (scenario 1) and/or denitrification coupled with dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) (scenario 2). In either case, the availability of fixed nitrogen may have provided the nutrient N required to facilitate facilitated eukaryotic growth. Our study highlights the pivotal role of nutrient N in the evolution of eukaryotes.