Abstract:

Few studies describe and compare the transport mechanisms operating to disperse mud in different parts of basins. Instead, the physical processes operating to disperse mud in offshore environments, where storm and tidal processes are interpreted to dominate, are generally considered in isolation from those occurring in basinal settings where changes in bottom-water anoxia and suspension settling from buoyant plumes are mostly interpreted to dominate. Using microtextural, mineralogical and geochemical data derived from the analyses of 151 thin sections obtained from the Lower Jurassic mudstone-dominated succession exposed on the coast of NE England, we investigate how varying sediment dispersal mechanisms, bioturbation and early diagenesis operated to produce the lithofacies variability observed. In particular, we consider the processes of sediment delivery while bottom waters were interpreted to be euxinic. Analyses of these samples reveal that the succession is highly variable at millimetre to centimetre scales. Six main lithofacies were observed: (1) sand- and clay-bearing, silt-rich mudstones; (2) silt-bearing, clay-rich mudstones; (3) clay-rich mudstones; (4) clay-, calcareous nannoplankton-, and organic carbon-bearing mudstones; (5) fine-grained muddy sandstones; (6) cement-rich mudstones. These units are organized typically into stacked successions of sharp-based, normally graded, thin (<10 mm) beds. Single beds exhibit a variety of sedimentary structures. Specifically tempestites, wave-enhanced sediment gravity flows of fluid mud, ripples and gutter casts are common in the coarser-grained mudstone facies. In contrast, thin siltstone lags, compacted ripples and organo-mineralic aggregates are common in the finer grained mudstone facies and those with significant primary production-derived components. Bioturbation is common throughout. These data indicate that sediment was transported by density flows and traction currents operating at the sediment–water interface in all parts of the studied succession. Bioturbation has overprinted depositional fabrics in the majority of samples. The extent to which persistent bottom-water anoxia and low-energy suspension settling influenced lithofacies variability in the basinal parts of the succession has been overstated; these environments were more dynamic than most researchers have previously concluded.

You do not currently have access to this article.