Accumulation of organic matter in Cretaceous oxygen-deficient depositional environments in the central Pacific Ocean

Organic Geochemistry
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Complete records of organic-carbon-rich Cretaceous strata were continuouslycored on the flanks of the Mid-Pacific Mountains and southern Hess Rise in the central North Pacific Ocean during DSDP Leg 62. Organic-carbon-rich laminated silicified limestones were deposited in the western Mid-Pacific Mountains during the early Aptian, a time when that region was south of the equator and considerably shallower than at present. Organic-carbon-rich, laminated limestone on southern Hess Rise overlies volcanic basement and includes 136 m of stratigraphic section of late Albian to early Cenomanian age. This limestone unit was deposited rapidly as Hess Rise was passing under the equatorial high-productivity zone and was subsiding from shallow to intermediate depths. The association of volcanogenic components with organic-carbon-rich strata on Hess Rise in the Mid-Pacific Mountains is striking and suggests that there was a coincidence of mid-plate volcanic activity and the production and accumulation of organic matter at intermediate water depths in the tropical Pacific Ocean during the middle Cretaceous. Pyrolysis assays and analyses of extractable hydrocarbons indicate that the organic matter in the limestone on Hess Rise is composed mainly of lipid-rich kerogen derived from aquatic marine organisms and bacteria. Limestones from the Mid-Pacific Mountains generally contain low ratios of pyrolytic hydrocarbons to organic carbon and low hydrogen indices, suggesting that the organic matter may contain a significant proportion of land-derived material, possibly derived from numerous volcanic islands that must have existed before the area subsided. The organic carbon in all samples analyzed is isotopically light (??13C - 24 to - 29 per mil) relative to most modern rine organic carbon, and the lightest carbon is also the most lipid-rich. There is a positive linear correlation between sulfur and organic carbon in samples from Hess Rise and from the Mid-Pacific Mountains. The slopes and intercepts of C-S regression lines however, are different for each site and all are different from regression lines for samples from modern anoxic marine sediments and from Black Sea cores. The organic-carbon-rich limestones on Hess Rise, the Mid-Pacific Mountains, and other plateaus and seamounts in the Pacific Ocean are not synchronous but do occur within the same general middle Cretaceous time period as organic-carbon-rich lithofacies elsewhere in the world ocean, particularly in the Atlantic Ocean. Strata of equivalent age in the deep basins of the Pacific Ocean are not rich in organic carbon, and were deposited in oxygenated environments. This observation, together with the evidence that the plateau sites were considerably shallower and closse to the equator during the middle Creataceous suggests that local tectonic and hydrographic conditions may have resulted in high surface-water productivity and the preservation of organic matter in an oxygen-deficient environment where an expanded mid-water oxygen minimum developed and impinged on elevated platforms and seamounts. ?? 1984.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Accumulation of organic matter in Cretaceous oxygen-deficient depositional environments in the central Pacific Ocean
Series title Organic Geochemistry
Volume 7
Issue 1
Year Published 1984
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Organic Geochemistry
First page 39
Last page 51
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