Abstract

The sediments of organic-rich oil shales in the Bilong Co. area can be correlated with those of the early Toarcian anoxic black-shale events in Europe. The Bilong Co. sediments are rich in trace elements Se, Mo, Cd, As and Ni, and, to a lesser extent, Li, F, V, Co, Cu, Cs, Hg and Bi, in comparison to the upper continental crust. Thirty-two oil shale samples were collected from the Bilong Co. oil shale to evaluate the controlling factors of trace-element enrichment in the lower Toarcian anoxic sediments. Minerals identified in the Bilong Co. oil shale include calcite, quartz, illite, feldspar and dolomite, and trace amounts of siderite, magnesite, halite, haematite, zeolite, amphibole, gypsum, anhydrite, apatite, pyrite, sphalerite, barite and mixed-layer illite/smectite. Mineralogical and geochemical data show that seawater and hydrothermal activities are the dominant influences on the mineralogical composition and elevated trace-element concentrations in the oil shale. The clay minerals, quartz and feldspar in the Bilong Co. oil shale were derived from the Nadi Kangri volcanic rocks. Input of sediment from this source may have led to enrichment of trace elements Li, Cr and Cs in the oil shale. Carbonate minerals and nodular- and framboidal-pyrite are authigenic phases formed from seawater. The enrichment of V, Co, Ni, Cu, Mo, As, Se, Bi and U in the oil shale was owing to marine influence. Barite, sphalerite and fracture-filling pyrites were derived from hydrothermal solutions. High concentrations of F, Zn and Cd were probably derived from hydrothermal fluids.

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