Origin of red beds in a Cambrian flysch sequence, Canadian Appalachians, Quebec



The basal unit of this flysch sequence consists of about 700 m of rhythmically interlayered red and green claystone intercalated with feldspathic sandstone and lithic conglomerate. Chemical analyses show that both types of claystones have approximately the same Fe2O3 content (8%).

The presence within green claystone of inarticulate brachiopods, thin laminations of phosphate and pyrite, coupled with a high Mn content (Fe/Mn : 27) together with the composition of the chlorites, suggest that green mud was deposited slowly in a marine environment under reducing conditions. The hematite content of red claystone averages 4%. The Fe/Mn is high (71), and the clay fraction contains chamosite in addition to chlorite and illite. These characteristics favour a paralic oxidizing environment for the red muds.

Rapid resedimentation of red sediment from a paralic environment into the green lithotope, rather than a lateral variation of facies, is suggested by: (1) the distribution of the two hemirhythms in the stratigraphic column, (2) the presence in the red hemirhythm of large slump structures, contorted laminations, and pebbly claystone, and (3) by the internal sedimentary structures of the coarse fraction.