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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.
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
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
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