• Black shales;
  • depositional environment;
  • Posidonia Shale;
  • pyrite;
  • S isotopes;
  • trace-elements


Authigenic pyrite grains from a section of the Lower Toarcian Posidonia Shale were analysed for their trace-element contents and sulphur-isotope compositions. The resulting data are used to evaluate the relationship between depositional conditions and pyrite trace-element composition. By using factor analysis, trace-elements in pyrite may be assigned to four groups: (i) heavy metals (including Cu, Ni, Co, Pb, Bi and Tl); (ii) oxyanionic elements (As, Mo and Sb); (iii) elements partitioned in sub-microscopic sphalerite inclusions (Zn and Cd); and (iv) elements related to organic or silicate impurities (Ga and V). Results indicate that trace-element contents in pyrite depend on the site and mechanism of pyrite formation, with characteristic features being observed for diagenetic and syngenetic pyrites. Diagenetic pyrite formed within anoxic sediments generally has a high heavy metals content, and the degree of pyritization of these elements increases with increasing oxygen deficiency, similar to the degree of pyritization of reactive Fe. The highest gradient in the increase of the degree of trace element pyritization with bottom-water oxygenation was found for the elements Ni < Cu < Mo = As < Tl. In contrast, syngenetic pyrite formed within a euxinic water column typically is enriched in As, Mo and Sb, but is low in heavy metals, and the geochemical variation reflects changes in sea water composition.