Profiles of Mo/total organic carbon (TOC) through the Lower Toarcian black shales of the Cleveland Basin, Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and the Posidonia shale of Germany and Switzerland reveal water mass restriction during the interval from late tenuicostatum Zone times to early bifrons Zone times, times which include that of the putative Early Toarcian oceanic anoxic event. The degree of restriction is revealed by crossplots of Mo and TOC concentrations for the Cleveland Basin, which define two linear arrays with regression slopes (ppm/%) of 0.5 and 17. The slope of 0.5 applies to sediment from the upper semicelatum and exaratum Subzones. This value, which is one tenth of that for modern sediments from the Black Sea (Mo/TOC regression slope 4.5), reveals that water mass restriction during this interval was around 10 times more severe than in the modern Black Sea; the renewal frequency of the water mass was between 4 and 40 ka. The Mo/TOC regression slope of 17 applies to the overlying falciferum and commune subzones: the value shows that restriction in this interval was less severe and that the renewal frequency of the water mass was between 10 and 130 years. The more restricted of the two intervals has been termed the Early Toarcian oceanic anoxic event but is shown to be an event caused by basin restriction local to NW Europe. Crossplots of Re, Os, and Mo against TOC show similar trends of increasing element concentration with increase in TOC but with differing slopes. Together with modeling of 187Os/188Os and δ98Mo, the element/TOC trends show that drawdown of Re, Os, and Mo was essentially complete during upper semicelatum and exaratum Subzone times (Mo/TOC regression slope of 0.5). Drawdown sensitized the restricted water mass to isotopic change forced by freshwater mixing so that continental inputs of Re, Os, and Mo, via a low-salinity surface layer, created isotopic excursions of up to 1.3‰ in δ98Mo and up to 0.6‰ for 187Os/188Os. Restriction thereby compromises attempts to date Toarcian black shales, and possibly all black shales, using Re-Os chronology and introduces a confounding influence in the attempts to use δ98Mo and initial 187Os/188Os for palaeo-oceanographic interpretation.