Abstract

Jurassic radiolarites that were deposited on continental crust and which are overlain and underlain by pelagic limestones were examined in four basins. Radiolarites studied range from bedded chert , where chert occurs in even, continuous beds separated by conscpicuous rhythmic shale interbeds, to nodular-lumpy chert , where chert occurs as isolated nodules in limestone at one extreme to lumpy beds of irregular thickness at the other extreme. Bedded chert formations are composed of microcrystalline quartz, clay minerals, and minor amounts of either hematite or organic matter pigment; nodular cherts contain in addition considerable micrite (altered coccolith ooze). Chert nodules, lenses, and beds all formed by the diagenetic reorganization of silica almost entirely of biogenic origin, chiefly from Radiolaria. Nodular-lumpy chert beds and even some bedded chert formed by partial to complete replacement of limestone. Lumpy beds formed because compaction, dissolution of calcite, and replacement of calcite were not uniform in either time or place within a bed. Many even-bedded chert layers were originally silts or sands composed almost entirely of current-deposited Radiolaria. The rhythmic bedding of radiolarite is the product of 1) episodes of rapid current-deposition (e.g., turbidity currents) of radiolarian sediment alternating with slow deposition of hemipelagic mud and 2) episodic growth of Radiolaria. Bioturbation blurs the evidence of these two different origins, but the following features indicate that many chert-precursor beds were current-deposited: sharp chert-shale bedding contacts, flute casts, graded beds, clay clasts, laminations and rapidly buried animal tracks and trails. Water depths during radiolarite deposition are uncertain. Regional stratigraphic data, evidence of redeposited radiolarian sand, and acceptance of the Bosellini-Winterer model of carbonate dissolution surfaces during Late Jurassic time leads EFM to conclude that well-bedded radiolarite was deposited at depths close to the CCD ( nearly equal 2500 m) and that lumpy-bedded chert was deposited between the ACD and the CCD (1500 to 2000 m). Features indicating the presence of evaporites (evaporite pseudomorphs, breccias formed by crystal growth, quartzine, lutecite), paleosoil fabrics, stalactite-stalagmite fracture fillings, and disbelief in the validity of the CCD in Late Jurassic time in the Tethys leads RLF to conclude that the Lombardy radiolarites were deposited in environments that were, in part, shallow intertidal mudflats where local precipitation and solution of evaporite minerals and occasional subaerial exposure took place.

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