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Palaeoenvironmental significance of Toarcian black shales and event deposits from southern Beaujolais, France



New sedimentological, biostratigraphical and geochemical data recording the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (T-OAE) are reported from a marginal marine succession in southern Beaujolais, France. The serpentinum and bifrons ammonite zones record black shales with high (1–10 wt%) total organic carbon contents (TOC) and dysoxia-tolerant benthic fauna typical of the ‘Schistes Carton’ facies well documented in contemporaneous nearby basins. The base of the serpentinum ammonite zone, however, differs from coeval strata of most adjacent basinal series in that it presents several massive storm beds particularly enriched in juvenile ammonites and the dysoxia-tolerant, miniaturized gastropod Coelodiscus. This storm-dominated interval records a marked negative 5‰ carbonate and organic carbon isotope excursion being time-equivalent with that recording storm- and mass flow-deposits in sections of the Lusitanian Basin, Portugal, pointing to the existence of a major tempestite/turbidite event over tropical areas during the T-OAE. Although several explanations remain possible at present, we favour climatically induced changes in platform morphology and storm activity as the main drivers of these sedimentological features. In addition, we show that recent weathering, most probably due to infiltration of O2-rich meteoric water, resulted in the preferential removal of 12C-enriched organic carbon, dramatic TOC loss and total destruction of the lamination of the black shale sequence over most of the studied exposure. These latter observations imply that extreme caution should be applied when interpreting the palaeoenvironmental significance of sediments lacking TOC enrichment and lamination from outcrops with limited surface exposures.


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