The Upper Triassic Chang 7 Member lacustrine organic-rich shale of the Yanchang Formation of the Ordos Basin is a significant hydrocarbon source rock containing abundant of tuff intervals ranging from millimeters to tens of centimeters thick. The present study relies upon petrographic and geochemical data of Chang 7 tuff intervals and organic-rich shale to consider fertilization of the lake surface by volcanic debris as a triggering mechanism of black shale sedimentation. Paleoproductivity proxies, including P/Al, Ni/Al, and Cu/Al, display elevated values in association with tuff intervals, suggesting increased productivity induced by volcanic nutrient seeding of the lake surface. Moreover, vertical variations of TOC mimic trends of paleoproductivity proxies, indicating that primary productivity was critical to organic carbon enrichment of the Chang 7 Member. Previous studies have postulated that lake bottom redox conditions were predominantly oxic–suboxic during deposition of the Chang 7 and that these deposits accumulated slowly, neither of which would have favored the export and preservation of organic matter in the absence of enhanced productivity. Accumulation of the organic-rich Chang 7 shale demonstrates the critical role that intensified primary productivity triggered by volcanism can play in the accumulation of carbonaceous sediment.

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