The Depositional Record (Jun 2020)

Turbidite‐induced re‐oxygenation episodes of the sediment‐water interface in a diverticulum of the Tethys Ocean during the Oceanic Anoxic Event 1a: The French Vocontian Basin

  • Alexis Caillaud,
  • Melesio Quijada,
  • Bastien Huet,
  • Jean‐Yves Reynaud,
  • Armelle Riboulleau,
  • Viviane Bout‐Roumazeilles,
  • François Baudin,
  • Anthony Chappaz,
  • Thierry Adatte,
  • Jean‐Noël Ferry,
  • Nicolas Tribovillard

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6, no. 2
pp. 352 – 382


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Abstract Widespread anoxic events affected the Tethys Ocean during the Mesozoic. The Ocean Anoxic Event 1a (Early Aptian), expressed as the Selli Level or Goguel Level (GL) in European basins. The GL was deposited in the French Vocontian Basin, a semi‐enclosed basin connected to the Tethys Ocean. This study presents an integrated approach (Rock Eval, clay minerals, grain‐size, inorganic geochemistry and molecular biomarkers), applied to four sections in the basin distributed along a proximal‐distal transect. This study shows that the GL was perturbed by turbidites. In particular, the results demonstrate: (a) a homogeneous redox status of the basin that experienced oxic to suboxic conditions, according to trace element distributions and (b) low organic matter contents (total organic carbon ca 1 wt%) in the three sections where turbiditic deposits are observed. The distal, condensed section exhibits the highest organic matter contents (total organic carbon >3 wt%). In addition, the presence of gammacerane and isorenieratene derivatives in the distal sections suggests that the water‐column was intermittently stratified, with hypoxia developing in the photic zone. This stratification did not result from strong surface productivity but more likely from: (a) limited renewal of deep water in the basin; (b) reputedly high surface‐water palaeotemperatures during the Early Aptian; and (c) the influx of waters, possibly depleted in free oxygen and in some dissolved trace elements, into the basin. The turbiditic inputs, in addition to organic matter dilution in the sediments and a brief rupture of the water‐column stratification in the proximal areas of the basin, ventilated the sea floor and more specifically re‐oxidized the sediment‐water interface as well as underlying sediments. Such episodes of benthic re‐oxygenation could have altered the long‐term palaeoredox record, even in the distal sections where reducing conditions prevailed during deposition. In the area deprived of turbiditic input, sedimentary condensation, coupled with low oxygen conditions, furthered organic matter preservation and concentration.