Abstract

Ooidal ironstones form prominent units, and an appreciation of their sedimentological and stratigraphic significance is important for the interpretation of sedimentary successions. Ooidal ironstones from the Albian Paddy Member of the Peace River Formation, Alberta, Canada, and the Campanian Castlegate Sandstone of the Mesaverde Group in Colorado have been analyzed. The ooidal ironstones are associated with a major sequence boundary and subsequent transgressive surface. Both are interpreted to have been deposited under conditions of low net sediment accumulation in well-oxygenated bottom-water conditions, with episodic storm events reworking the sediments. The Paddy Member ironstone is interpreted to have been deposited in an estuarine environment, and the Castlegate ironstone is interpreted to have been deposited in a shallow-marine environment. Both ironstones are dominated by berthierine ooids and grain-rimming and pore-filling siderite, with later ferroan dolomite and calcite in the Castlegate ooidal ironstone. Petrographic, geochemical, and isotopic evidence, coupled with thermodynamic considerations, indicates that the ooidal ironstone mineralogy formed during suboxic diagenesis. The conditions required for suboxic diagenesis were extensive sediment reworking and slow net sediment accumulation rates. We propose that these conditions arose as a result of marine transgression during the initial relative sea-level rise following the development of a sequence boundary. Ooidal ironstone formation ceased once sedimentation rates increased and transgression deepened water depths considerably. These results illustrate the association between ooidal ironstones and major stratal surfaces in sedimentary successions, and highlights the complexity that early diagenesis at such surfaces can take.

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