Iron limitation in the Western Interior Seaway during the Late Cretaceous OAE 3 and its role in phosphorus recycling and enhanced organic matter preservation

Allyson Tessin, Nathan D. Sheldon, Ingrid Hendy, Anthony Chappaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The sedimentary record of the Coniacian–Santonian Oceanic Anoxic Event 3 (OAE 3) in the North American Western Interior Seaway is characterized by a prolonged period of enhanced organic carbon (OC) burial. This study investigates the role of Fe in enhancing organic matter preservation and maintaining elevated primary productivity to sustain black shale deposition within the Coniacian–Santonian-aged Niobrara Formation in the USGS #1 Portland core. Iron speciation results indicate the development of a reactive Fe limitation coeval with reduced bioturbation and increased organic matter preservation, suggesting that decreased sulfide buffering by reactive Fe may have promoted enhanced organic matter preservation at the onset of OAE 3. An Fe limitation would also provide a feedback mechanism to sustain elevated primary productivity through enhanced phosphorus recycling. Additionally our results demonstrate inconsistencies between Fe-based and trace metal redox reconstructions. Iron indices from the Portland core indicate a single stepwise change, whereas the trace metal redox proxies indicate fluctuating redox conditions during and after OAE 3. Using Fe speciation to reconstruct past redox conditions may be complicated by a number of factors, including Fe sequestration in diagenetic carbonate phases and efficient sedimentary pyrite formation in a system with limited Fe supply and high levels of export production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-144
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume449
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Keywords

  • Oceanic Anoxic Events
  • black shales
  • iron speciation
  • organic carbon burial
  • trace metals

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