Geochemical and mineralogical influence of Ordovician Island Arcs on epicontinental clastic sedimentation. A study of Lower Palaeozoic sedimentation in the Oslo Region, Norway

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ABSTRACT

The mineralogy and geochemistry of clastic sediments in the 1000 m thick Lower Palaeozoic marine sequence of the Oslo Region is discussed on the basis of 200 chemical (XRF) and mineralogical (X-ray diffractometer) analyses. The composition of these sediments is considered to largely be a function of the relative supply from land of the continental shield (Baltic Shield) and from island are systems to the NW in the Trondheim Region. The relative abundance of chlorite and illite is discussed in light of recent knowledge about their distribution in modern oceans.

Middle Cambrian to Lowermost Ordovician black shales contain only illite as the dominant clay mineral and have a high potassium content. These sediments are thought to be derived from land on the continental shield, which during this period probably had a low relief and a warm climate where chlorite is not stable. Chlorite is introduced first in the Arenigan (L. Ordovician) and this is interpreted as evidence for transport of clastic chlorite from a developing island arc system in the Trondheim Region to the west. The highest chlorite/illite ratio in the Middle and Upper Ordovician sediments of the Oslo Region corresponds to a Taconic orogenic phase. The content of clastic chlorite in the Lower Palaeozoic of the Oslo Region is thus shown to be a sensitive indicator of palaeoenvironment and tectonic evolution of the Caledonian geosyncline.

This conclusion is also supported by a systematic increase in Mg, Fe, Ni, and Cr from Lower to Middle and Upper Ordovician beds. High Cr values exceeding 0–1 % Cr in the Middle/Upper Ordovician shales are due to small grains of clastic chromite resembling those in the serpentinites of the Trondheim Region. This also suggests transport from exposed island arcs onto the epicontinental shelf.

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