Sulphur/carbon ratios in cores of selected Cretaceous marine shales average 0.67, a value greater than that observed in recent marine sediments and much higher than global values calculated for the Cretaceous. This may be ascribed to generally low levels of bioturbation and enhanced efficiency of sulphate reduction due to low oxygen levels in Cretaceous seaways. Isotopic compositions of pyrite sulphur vary systematically with level of oxygenation of the depositional environment and therefore with organic carbon abundance and type of organic matter. Samples with >4% organic carbon are extremely depleted in 34S (mean delta 34S -31per mille) and contain hydrogen-rich organic matter. Samples containing <1.5% organic carbon display relatively 'heavy' but wide-ranging delta 34S values (-34.6 to +16.8per mille) and contain hydrogen-poor organic matter. Samples with intermediate amounts of organic carbon have average delta 34S of -25.9per mille and contain both types of organic matter. Relations between the nature of these shales, and their sedimentation rate and depositional environment are discussed.-L.C.H.
Additional publication details
Cretaceous shales from the western interior of North America: sulfur/carbon ratios and sulfur-isotope composition.