Redox conditions, glacio-eustasy, and the status of the Cenomanian–Turonian Anoxic Event: new evidence from the Upper Cretaceous Chalk of England

Christopher V. Jeans, David S. Wray, C. Terry Williams, David J. Bland, Christopher J. Wood


The nature of the Cenomanian–Turonian Oceanic Anoxic Event (CTOAE) and its δ13 C Excursion is considered in the light of (1) the stratigraphical framework in which the CTOAE developed in the European shelf seas, (2) conclusions that can be drawn from new detailed investigations of the Chalk succession at three locations in England, at Melton Ross and Flixton in the Northern Province where organic-rich ‘black bands’ are present, and at Dover in the Southern Province (part of the Anglo-Paris Basin) where they are absent, and (3) how these conclusion fit in with the present understanding of the CTOAE. The application of the cerium anomaly method (German and Elderfield 1990) at Dover, Melton Ross and Flixton has allowed the varying palaeoredox conditions in the Chalk Sea and its sediments to be related to the acid insoluble residues, organic carbon, δ18O (calcite), δ13C (calcite), δ13C (organic matter), Fe 2+ and Mn2+ (calcite), and P/TiO2 (acid insoluble residue). This has provided evidence that the initial stages of the δ13C Excursion in England were related to (1) a drop of sea level estimated at between 45 and 85 metres, (2) influxes of terrestrial silicate and organic detritus from adjacent continental sources and the reworking of exposed marine sediments, and (3) the presence of three cold water phases (named the Wood, Jefferies and Black) associated with the appearance of the cold-water pulse fauna during the Plenus Cold Event. Conditions in the water column and in the chalk sediment were different in the two areas. In the Northern Province, cerium-enriched waters and anoxic conditions were widespread; the δ13C pattern reflects the interplay between the development of anoxia in the water column and the preservation of terrestrial and marine organic matter in the black bands; here the CTOAE was short-lived (~0.25 Ma) lasting only the length of the Upper Cenomanian Metoicoceras geslinianum Zone. In the Southern Province, water conditions were oxic and the δ13C Excursion lasted to the top of the Lower Turonian Watinoceras devonense Zone, much longer (~1.05 Ma) than in the Northern Province. These differences are discussed with respect to (1) the Cenomanian–Turonian Anoxic Event (CTAE) hypothesis when the ocean-continent-atmosphere systems were linked, (2) limitations of chemostratigraphic global correlation, and (3) the Cenomanian–Turonian Anoxic Event Recovery (CTOAER), a new term to define the varying lengths of time it took different oceans and seas to recover once the linked ocean-continent-atmosphere system was over. The possibility is considered that glacio-eustasy (the glacial control hypothesis of Jeans et al. 1991) with the waxing and waning of polar ice sheets, in association with the degassing of large igneous provinces, may have set the scene for the development of the
Cenomanian–Turonian Anoxic Event (CTAE).


Cretaceous; Cenomanian–Turonian Anoxic Event; Eustatic lithocycles; Glacial associations; Redox conditions; Cerium anomalies; Carbon isotopes; NW Europe; Japan

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