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Repeated enrichment of trace metals and organic carbon on an Eocene high-energy shelf caused by anoxia and reworking

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Thomas Wagner, Suha Aqleh


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Petroleum source rocks are strongly enriched in organic carbon (OC), and their trace metal (TM) contents often reach low-grade ore levels. The mechanisms leading to these coenrichments are important for understanding how extreme environmental conditions support the formation of natural resources. We therefore studied organic-rich Eocene marls and limestones (oil shale) from the central Jordan Amzaq-Hazra subbasin, part of a Cretaceous-Paleogene shelf system along the southern Neo-Tethys margin. Geochemical analyses on two cores show highly dynamic depositional conditions, consistent with sedimentological and micropaleontological observations. Maximum and average contents, respectively, in OC (similar to 26 and similar to 10 wt%), sulfur (similar to 7 and similar to 2.4 wt%), phosphorus (similar to 10 and similar to 2 wt%), molybdenum (> 400 and similar to 130 ppm), chromium (> 500 and similar to 350 ppm), vanadium (> 1600 and similar to 550 ppm) and zinc (> 3800 and similar to 900 ppm) are exceptional, in particular without any indication of hydrothermal or epigenetic processes. We propose a combination of two processes: physical reworking of OC- and metal-rich material from locally exposed Cretaceous-Paleogene sediments (as supported by reworked nannofossils), and high marine productivity fueled by chemical remobilization of nutrients and metals on land that sustained anoxic-sulfidic conditions. Burial of high-quality organic matter (hydrogen index 600-700 mgHC/gOC) was related to strongly reducing conditions, punctuated by only short-lived oxygenation events, and to excess H2S, promoting organic matter sulfurization. These processes likely caused the OC and TM coenrichments in a high-energy shallow-marine setting that contradicts common models for black shale formation, but may explain similar geochemical patterns in other black shales.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Marz C, Wagner T, Aqleh S, Al-Alaween M, van den Boorn S, Podlaha OG, Kolonic S, Poulton SW, Schnetger B, Brumsack HJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geology

Year: 2016

Volume: 44

Issue: 12

Pages: 1011-1014

Print publication date: 01/12/2016

Online publication date: 01/10/2016

Acceptance date: 25/09/2016

ISSN (print): 0091-7613

ISSN (electronic): 1943-2682

Publisher: Geological Society of America


DOI: 10.1130/G38412.1


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