This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Abstract

A paucity of studies on mud-rich basin slope successions has resulted in a significant gap in our sedimentological understanding in these settings. Here, macro- and micro-scale analysis of mudstone composition, texture and organic matter was undertaken on a continuous core through a mud-dominated slope succession from the Marl Hill area in the Carboniferous Bowland Basin. Six lithofacies, all dominated by turbidites and debrites, combine into three basin slope facies associations: sediment-starved slope, slope dominated by low-density turbidites and slope dominated by debrites. Variation in slope sedimentation was a function of relative sea-level change, with the sediment-starved slope occurring during maximum flooding of the contemporaneous shelf, and the transition towards a slope dominated by turbidites and then debrites occurring during normal or forced shoreline progradation towards the shelf margin. The sediment-starved slope succession is dominated by Type II kerogen, whereas the slope dominated by low-density turbidites is dominated by Type III kerogen. This study suggests that mud-dominated lower slope settings are largely active depositional sites, with consistent evidence for sediment traction. Additionally, the composition and texture of basin slope mudstones, as well as organic content, vary predictably as a function of shelf processes linked to relative sea-level change.