SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

ABSTRACT

Santonian-Lower Campanian and Lower Maastrichtian phosphatic chalks in northern France, southern England and Belgium are Europe's largest sedimentary phosphatc deposits. The stratigraphy, sediment-ology, petrography, mineralogy and geochemistry of the lithofacies are reviewed and new data presented. Depositional and diagenetic models for phosphatic chalk deposits are developed using published experimental work and from observations of modern high- and low-productivity phosphogenic systems. It is concluded that phosphatic chalks were deposited in well-oxygenated, current-swept environments. Phosphatization required a delicate balance to be maintained between moderate organic carbon and carbonate sedimentation rates, reduced bulk sediment accumulation rate and an enhanced rate of bioturbation. Precipitation of carbonate-fluorapatite (francolite) accompanied the bacterially mediated decomposition of organic matter, occurring within centimetres of the sediment-seawater interface, and taking place preferentially within microbial bodies and coatings. In addition to the organically derived component, pore water phosphate levels were enhanced by phosphate absorbed on ferric oxyhydroxides which was liberated during iron reduction. Mineralization was probably a dominantly post-oxic process, but occurred in a thick sediment mixed layer in which marine organic matter was undergoing intense mixed aerobic and anaerobic microbial degradation. Phosphogenesis occurred predominantly on the NE margins of the Anglo-Paris Basin where shallower sea floors and suitable palaeoceanographic conditions prevailed. Phosphogenic episodes were limited by sea level fluctuations'which controlled the effectiveness of the erosional currents that formed and maintained the phosphatic basins and may have stimulated local productivity.