Abstract

Devonian black shales deposited on the North American craton contain abundant Tasmanites cysts. Although these are typically flattened because of compaction, a small proportion are filled with diagenetic silica. The latter are spherical to ellipsoidal (0.1-0.5 mm), and filled with chalcedony, microquartz and megaquartz, and single quartz crystals. Chalcedonic cyst fillings are preserved best in cheat and phosphate nodules, whereas megaquartz and single quartz crystals are most common in shale matrix. Together with colloform textures, this suggests that the various silica types originated from recrystallization of early diagenetic silica deposits. Thin sandstone beds in the Chattanooga Shale (e.g., Bransford Sandstone) contain abundant quartz sand that is much coarser than the detrital quartz component of the underlying black shales. Because of this, their quartz component is thought to have been transported over considerable distances from the basin margin. However, because certain shale horizons contain as much as 10% silicified cysts that upon reworking could have yielded quartz grains of fine to coarse sand size, the quartz component of these sandstone beds may actually have formed in situ . Indeed, petrographic examination of the sandstone beds shows them to contain quartz grains with morphological and textural features of "cyst" quartz (e.g., rounding, sphericity, chalcedony, pyrite inclusions, lobate grain margins). Thus, silica deposition in algal cysts may provide a significant component of intrabasinal quartz sand in shale sequences. Distinction of this type of quartz from extrabasinal detrital quartz is important to the reconstruction of the depositional history of shale sequences.

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