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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Jan 2019

Research article | 29 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).

Dynamic climate-driven controls on the deposition of the Kimmeridge Clay Formation in the Cleveland Basin, Yorkshire, UK

Elizabeth Atar1, Christian März2, Andrew Aplin1, Olaf Dellwig3, Liam Herringshaw4, Violaine Lamoureux-Var5, Melanie J. Leng6, Bernhard Schnetger7, and Thomas Wagner8 Elizabeth Atar et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
  • 2School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
  • 3Leibniz-Institute for Baltic Sea Research, Marine Geology, Seestrasse 15, 18119 Rostock, Germany
  • 4School of Environmental Sciences, University of Hull, Hull, HU6 7RX, UK
  • 5IFP Energies Nouvelles, Geosciences Division, 1 et 4 Avenue de Bois-Préau, 92852 Rueil-Malmaison Cedex, France
  • 6NERC Isotope Geosciences Lab oratory, British Geological Survey, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK and Centre for Environmental Geochemistry, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingam, Sutton Bonington Campus, Leicestershire, UK
  • 7ICMB, Oldenburg University, P.O. Box 2503, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany
  • 8Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK

Abstract. The Kimmeridge Clay Formation (KCF) is a laterally extensive, total organic carbon-rich succession deposited throughout Northwest Europe during the Kimmeridgian–Tithonian (Late Jurassic). Here we present a petrographic and geochemical dataset for a 40 metre-thick section of a well-preserved drill core recovering thermally-immature deposits of the KCF in the Cleveland Basin (Yorkshire, UK), covering an interval of approximately 800 kyr. The new data are discussed in the context of depositional processes, sediment source and supply, transport and dispersal mechanisms, water column redox conditions, and basin restriction.

Armstrong et al. (2016) recently postulated that an expanded Hadley Cell, with an intensified but alternating hydrological cycle, heavily influenced sedimentation and total organic carbon (TOC) enrichment, through promoting the primary productivity and organic matter burial, in the UK sectors of the Boreal Seaway. Consistent with such climate boundary conditions, petrographic observations, total organic carbon and carbonate contents, and major and trace element data presented here indicate that the KCF of the Cleveland Basin was deposited in the distal part of the Laurasian Seaway. Depositional conditions alternated between three states that produced a distinct cyclicity in the lithological and geochemical records: lower variability mudstone intervals (LVMIs) which comprise of clay-rich mudstone, TOC-rich sedimentation, and carbonate-rich sedimentation. The lower variability mudstone intervals dominate the studied interval but are punctuated by three ~ 2–4 m thick intervals of alternating TOC-rich and carbonate-rich sedimentation (here termed higher variability mudstone intervals, HVMIs). During the lower variability mudstone intervals, conditions were quiescent with oxic to sub-oxic bottom water conditions. During the higher variability mudstone intervals, highly dynamic conditions resulted in repeated switching of the redox system in a way similar to the modern deep basins of the Baltic Sea. During carbonate-rich sedimentation, oxic conditions prevailed, most likely due to elevated depositional energies at the seafloor by current/wave action. During TOC-rich sedimentation, anoxic-euxinic conditions led to an enrichment of redox sensitive/sulphide forming trace metals at the seafloor and a preservation of organic matter, and an active Mn-Fe particulate shuttle delivered redox sensitive/sulphide forming trace metals to the seafloor. In addition, based on TOC–S–Fe relationships, organic matter sulphurisation appears to have increased organic material preservation in about half of the analysed samples throughout the core, while the remaining samples were either dominated by excess Fe input into the system or experienced pyrite oxidation and sulphur loss during oxygenation events. New Hg/TOC data do not provide evidence of increased volcanism during this time, consistent with previous work. Set in the context of recent climate modelling, our study provides a comprehensive example of the dynamic climate-driven depositional and redox conditions that can control TOC and metal accumulations in the distal part of a shallow epicontinental sea, and is therefore key to understanding the formation of similar deposits throughout Earth's history.

Elizabeth Atar et al.
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Elizabeth Atar et al.
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Short summary
We present a geochemical and petrographic study of the Kimmeridge Clay Formation from the Cleveland Basin (Yorkshire, UK). Our results indicate that deposition during this interval was very dynamic and oscillated between three distinct modes of sedimentation. In line with recent modelling results, we propose that these highly dynamic conditions were driven by changes in climate, which affected continental weathering, enhanced primary productivity, and led to organic carbon enrichment.
We present a geochemical and petrographic study of the Kimmeridge Clay Formation from the...