EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Oceanography of the Western Interior Seaway during OAE 2 using Nd isotopes

Sietske Batenburg1,2, Hugh Jenkyns2, Raquel Bryant3, Mark Leckie3, Alexander Dickson4, Stuart Robinson2, Micha Ruhl5, and James Eldrett6
Sietske Batenburg et al.
  • 1Géosciences Rennes, Université de Rennes 1, Rennes, France;
  • 2University of Oxford, Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 3Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA
  • 4Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom
  • 5Department of Geology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  • 6Shell Projects and Technology, Rijswijk, the Netherlands

During the greenhouse climate of the mid-Cretaceous, the Western Interior Seaway (WIS) experienced semi-restricted conditions with poor water-column ventilation, leading to the accumulation of black organic-rich shales. In the Maverick Basin, the southernmost extent of the WIS, the main phase of organic-matter deposition occurred in the early to late Cenomanian, before Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 (OAE 2). A sea-level rise prior to the event may have caused the basin to become better ventilated during the Cenomanian–Turonian transition, and ocean circulation likely played a major role on productivity and the preservation of organic matter. Widely different regimes of ocean circulation are suggested to have operated, with alternating incursions of water masses from both the north and the south. Foraminiferal assemblages suggest that during the early phase of OAE 2, Tethyan waters were drawn northward into the WIS (Elderbak & Leckie, 2016), whereas dinocyst occurrences indicate an influx of boreal surface waters into the Maverick Basin at that time (Eldrett et al., 2014; 2017). This cooler episode correlates with the so-called Plenus Cold Event, recognized in northern Europe by southward invasion of boreal faunas.

Here we present neodymium-isotope records (εNd) of fish teeth and detrital fractions from the Eagle Ford Formation that record the presence of distinct water masses at depth and allow testing of suggested mechanisms of ocean circulation. Mid- to late Cenomanian values of εNd around -3 (this study) are unusually radiogenic compared to coeval open ocean εNd records from the North Atlantic, where values typically lie between -4 and -10 (Martin et al., 2012, Robinson & Vance, 2012) and may reflect a strong influence of regional volcanism close to the WIS and/or weathering of mafic volcanic rocks in the water-mass source area. An excursion to positive εNd values in the WIS during OAE 2 may reflect changes in local weathering, or alternatively, the incursion of water masses carrying a signature of volcanic activity. The coeval emplacement of several Large Igneous Provinces (LIP), including the High Arctic LIP (Estrada et al., 2015) and the Caribbean LIP, may have influenced the seawater chemistry of the WIS, as reflected in Os and Cr concentrations and isotope ratios from the USGS Portland core (Du Vivier et al., 2014; Holmden et al., 2016).  Comparison of seawater and detrital εNd signatures with records north and south of the Maverick Basin will elucidate the direction and degree of deep-water exchange in the southern WIS.



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Eldrett, J.S., et al., 2017. Climate of the Past (13), pp.855–878.

Estrada, 2015. Int. J. Earth Sci. (104), pp.1981–2005.

Holmden et al., 2016. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 186 (2016) 277–295

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How to cite: Batenburg, S., Jenkyns, H., Bryant, R., Leckie, M., Dickson, A., Robinson, S., Ruhl, M., and Eldrett, J.: Oceanography of the Western Interior Seaway during OAE 2 using Nd isotopes, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19580,, 2020


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