Dynamic Deposition of Muds

Dynamic deposition of muds in ancient non-marine and shallow-marine depositional settings.

Mudstones dominate the ancient sedimentary record and host key fossil assemblages contain long-term records of climate change and play a significant role in petroleum systems. On continental shelves and in coastal plain environments, mudstones are major sites of organic carbon sequestration. Understanding the processes that control variability in fine-grained successions is therefore fundamental. Research is challenging because mudstones commonly appear superficially similar at field and core scales and are very susceptible to weathering.

Many studies of mudstones make assumptions:

  1. Delivery mechanisms of fine-grained sediment are relatively constant on the scale of geological members and formations.
  2. Sediment is buried without subsequent reworking, once delivered to the seafloor.
  3. Organic-rich sediments are primarily deposited in anoxic basins.

Our research uses the systematic description and interpretation of the fine-grained intervals using polished thin sections from primarily Carboniferous successions to re-evaluate long-held views on sedimentary processes and the use of geochemical proxies (e.g. C-isotopes of sedimentary organic matter, U, Mo).
Combining detailed sedimentology and geochemistry, our research demonstrates how the type of organic matter, organic carbon abundance, δ13C values from sedimentary organic matter relate to and are influenced by the delivery mechanism. A new project seeks to provide insights into the environmental conditions that existed during rebuilding of the ecosystem in the early Carboniferous and contributed to the preferential preservation of early tetrapods in fine-grained non-marine to marginal marine systems.

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