Contrasting flooding histories of Mississippian carbonate platforms revealed by marine alteration effects in palaeosols

Authors

  • V. PAUL WRIGHT,

    1. Postgraduate Research Institute for Sedimentology, The University of Reading, PO Box 227, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AB, UK
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    • Department of Earth Sciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF1 3YE, UK

  • SIMON D. VANSTONE,

    1. Postgraduate Research Institute for Sedimentology, The University of Reading, PO Box 227, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AB, UK
    2. Texaco Ltd, 5th floor, 1 Westferry Circus, Canary Wharf, London E14 4HA, UK
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  • JAMES D. MARSHALL

    1. Postgraduate Research Institute for Sedimentology, The University of Reading, PO Box 227, Whiteknights, Reading RG6 6AB, UK
    2. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3BX, UK
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ABSTRACT

Palaeosols associated with exposure surfaces in Mississippian platform carbonate sequences in Britain invariably show evidence for later alteration by sea water. These alteration effects can be attributed to flooding of the emergent platforms during transgressions that terminated exposure surface development. A study of 230 palaeosol profiles representing 60 stratigraphic levels has revealed a two fold division of these marine hydromorphic effects. Palaeosols in ramp sequences (Chadian-Arundian stages) are capped by ferroan dolomite horizons with carbonized rootlets, pyrite and thin coals. The ferroan dolomites exhibit δ13C and δ18O values indicative of formation in brackish waters. These are interpreted as coastal marshes that developed landward of a transgressive shoreline. Younger Asbian-Brigantian palaeosols lack these dolomites but have been extensively pyritised. The pyrite also developed through marine hydromorphic alteration but flooding was relatively instantaneous over the flat topped platforms. These differences in flooding history reflect both different platform configuration and more rapid transgressions during the Asbian-Brigantian, likely a result of glacio-eustatic effects. Flooding characteristics of the Asbian-Brigantian platforms differ from those associated with late Cainozoic examples, apparently because complete platform rims were not developed. Similar mineralogical alteration effects are likely to be common in other platform sequences in the geological record, but have not been documented.

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