Open session on stratigraphy, sedimentology and palaeontology

This session offers stratigraphers, sedimentologists and palaeontologists an opportunity to present papers that do not fall within research areas covered by this year's special themes. The vPICO format provides the maximum opportunity to present research on diverse themes to the widest possible audience.

Convener: Marc De Batist | Co-conveners: Cinzia Bottini, Guilhem Amin DouilletECSECS, Ian Jarvis
vPICO presentations
| Thu, 29 Apr, 11:45–12:30 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Thu, 29 Apr

Chairpersons: Cinzia Bottini, Guilhem Amin Douillet, Marc De Batist
Emilia Jarochowska, Oskar Bremer, Alexandra Yiu, Tiiu Märss, Henning Blom, Thomas Mörs, and Vivi Vajda

The Ludfordian Carbon Isotope Excursion (LCIE) reached the highest known δ13C values in the Phanerozoic. It was a global environmental perturbation manifested in a rapid regression attributed to glacial eustasy. Previous studies suggested that it has also heavily affected the diversity of conodonts, early vertebrates and reef ecosystems, but the timing of the crisis and recovery remained complicated owing to the lateral variability of δ13C values in epeiric platforms and rapid facies shifts, which drove faunal distribution. One of the best records of this interval is available in the Swedish island of Gotland, which preserves tectonically undisturbed strata deposited in a Silurian tropical carbonate platform. We revisited the world-renowned collection of the late Lennart Jeppsson, hosted at the Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, which holds the key to reconstruct the dynamics of faunal immigration and diversification following the LCIE. Here we focus on the Burgen erosional outlier, which remained a mystery, as it had been correlated with the excursion strata, but preserved a high diversity of conodonts and reefal ecosystems. We re-examined key outcrops and characterized macro- and microfacies, as well as chemostratigraphy and unpublished fauna in the collection. Strata in the Burgen outlier represent back-shoal facies of the Burgsvik Oolite Member and correspond to the Ozarkodina snajdri Conodont Biozone. The shallow-marine position compared to the more continental setting of coeval strata in southern Gotland, is reflected in the higher δ13Ccarb values, reaching +9.2‰. The back-shoal succession in this outcrop includes reefs, which contain a large proportion of microbial carbonates and have therefore been previously compared with low-diversity buildups developed in a stressed ecosystem. However, the framework of these reefs is built by a diverse coral-stromatoporoid-bryozoan fauna, indicating that a high microbial contribution might be a characteristic of the local carbonate factory rather than a reflection of restricted conditions. In the case of conodonts, impoverishment following the LCIE might be a product of facies preferences, as the diverse environments in the outlier yielded at least 20 of the 21 species known from the Burgsvik Formation in Gotland. Fish diversity also returned to normal levels following the LCIE with an estimated minimum of 9 species. Thelodont scales appear to dominate samples from the Burgen outlier, which is in line with previous reports. Our observations highlight how palaeoenvironmental reconstructions inform fossil niche and diversity analyses, but also how fossil museum collections continuously contribute new data on past biodiversity.

How to cite: Jarochowska, E., Bremer, O., Yiu, A., Märss, T., Blom, H., Mörs, T., and Vajda, V.: The recovery of early vertebrates and reef ecosystems following the late Silurian carbon isotope excursion: the Burgen outlier, Gotland, Sweden, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13333,, 2021.

Pavel Kabanov

Knowledge on the early development of vegetated landscapes mostly arrives from the floodplain successions where both paleosols and plant body fossils can be assessed. Due to better preservation in the sedimentary record, the shallow-marine carbonates avail much broader areas of former land surface preserved at disconformities, although the associated fossil floras are usually not preserved there. This study demonstrates how much can be learned from this underused sedimentary archive. Many dozens of subaerial exposure surfaces are assessed in cores from cyclic peritidal carbonates of the Emsian – early Eifelian age. These surfaces range from incipient erosional surfaces with few solution features, through paleokarst profiles penetrating to ≥1.0 m underneath disconformities, to thick (>1m) calcretic-clayey paleosols where the parent limestone is ultimately disintegrated into floatbreccia. The studied succession also contains numerous palustrine carbonate intervals, which is the earliest known occurrence of a typical palustrine facies in coastal carbonate plain environment (calcimagnesian paleo-landscape) and is nearly coeval with the earliest occurrence of palustrine facies in the floodplain succession of Svalbard. None of paleokarst and paleosol profiles contain traces of vascular-plant root penetration, and only palustrine facies exhibit swarms of thin (0.5-1.5 mm in diameter) rhizoliths. These findings are within the context of Devonian paleosols on marine carbonate substrates where root traces and laminar calcretes are extremely rare, and no instances of root penetrations are trackable from pre-Givetian, as well as from the Famennian carbonate strata. Despite δ13C and δ18O signatures demonstrating partial diagenetic reset of isotopic composition in studied formations, the moderate δ13Cvpdb offset towards lighter values is detected in two thicker paleosols (-3.0 to -8.0‰ in calcretic matrix vs. -1.0 to -4.5‰ in parent limestone). However, instances of δ13C offset in pre-Late Devonian calcretes are rare and their attribution to plant-derived CO2 is doubtful. It is inferred that the land surface in calcimagnesian landscapes remained a primary desert long after the advent of vascular plants in more favorable wetland settings. Furthermore, for the entirety of Devonian and well into the Carboniferous time, the area involved in primary deserts (surfaces never colonized by embryophytes) must have been much broader than the vegetated conduits of continental runoff, as seed reproductive strategy emerged only in the mid-Famennian, and no plant adaptations to aridic habitats enter the fossil record until Pennsylvanian. The embryophytic green cover of even older, pre-Devonian land was confined to very specific amphibian loci. The negligible biomass this pioneer, ground-level green skin was likely able to achieve contests the hypothetical link between the emergence of thallophyte-grade vegetation and the Late Ordovician event of atmospheric oxygenation and decarbonization. The very gradual, on the scale of first hundred(s) Myr, evolutionary expansion of land plants and correspondently slow increase in their aerial coverage and biomass, is at odds with the hypothetical teleconnection between the spread of terrestrial vegetation, Devonian anoxic events, and biotic crises in the marine realm. Eruption activity in LIP(s) was likely a main driving force in the mid-Devonian switch to the widespread anoxic deposition in shelfal seas known as the Kačák Event.

How to cite: Kabanov, P.: Early-Middle Devonian paleosols and palustrine beds of NW Canada in the context of land plant evolution and global spreads of anoxia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-9024,, 2021.

Dominik Božič, Adrijan Košir, Maša Mušič, and Marko Štrok

Jurassic successions of the northern part of the Friuli (a.k.a. Dinaric or Adriatic) Carbonate Platform (hereinafter FAD) are best exposed along the Trnovski Gozd Plateau in SW Slovenia. A major stratigraphic unit, known as the Trnovo (Ternowaner) oolite has been considered as a classical, textbook example of a highly productive carbonate platform system exporting oolite sediments to the adjacent deep water depositional settings, producing massive bodies of resedimented oolite, such as the Vajont Limestone of the Belluno Basin. Whereas the stratigraphy of the basinal units in the eastern southern Alps and NW Dinarides is well constrained, coeval shallow marine depositional sequences of FAD Carbonate Platform lack a reliable chronostratigraphic framework.

We performed Sr isotope analysis of brachiopod shells and belemnite rostra from two stratigraphic levels at the base and above the Trnovo oolite unit (TOU). Suitability of the fossil material was controlled by selecting skeletal parts without fractures and lacking evidence of alteration due to diagenesis and weathering. The ultrastructure of specimens was inspected in resin-embedded polished thin sections under a petrographic microscope, supported by cathodoluminescence and SEM examination, including EDS semi-quantitative elemental analysis of skeletal parts in thin sections and slabs. For chemical analysis, powdered samples were drilled from thin section wafers and analysed for 87Sr/86Sr (stratigraphy), d13C, d18O, Ca, Mg, Sr, Fe, Mn and Rb (diagenetic alteration control).

The elemental quantification was performed at Jožef Stefan Institute on an Agilent 8800 Triple-Quad Mass Spectrometer and Sr isotopic analysis on a Nu plasma II Multi-Collector MS. Additional 87Sr/86Sr measurements were performed at UCM Madrid on a IsotopX TIMS. The numerical values were calculated from published Sr curves.

Brachiopod species from a lumachelle directly overlying a condensed interval in the base of TOU have been considered indicative for the early Toarcian. However, 87Sr/86Sr values obtained from rynchonellid brachipod shells ranged from 0.707109 to 0.707122, corresponding to numerical ages of either 184.7 ± 0.4 Ma (late Pliensbachian) or 181.8 ± 0.5 Ma (early Toarcian). Belemnites from the Limestone with chert, an informal unit overlying TOU, yielded 87Sr/86Sr values from 0.706838 to 0.706862, that fit two intervals of the Sr isotope curve, i.e., 162.5 ± 1.9 Ma (latest Callovian-early Oxfordian) and 159.4 ± 1.7 Ma (middle to late Oxfordian), respectively. In both cases, the duality in results is caused by their proximity to the Sr curve minima.

These ages open several important questions about the geometry and depositional history of the northern FAD platform system. Despite of a limited accuracy of our results, the age range for TOU clearly spans (at least) late Toarcian and almost whole middle Jurassic, while the age of the supposedly time-equivalent basinal unit, the Vajont Limestone, falls into the late Bajocian-Bathonian interval. Furthermore, our sedimentological re-examination of the classical TOU localities has not shown characteristics of in-situ oolite production environments but, on contrary, evidence of deeper marine deposition marked by beds of carbonate mudstone, including most typical rosso-ammonitico-type facies, associated with (resedimented) oolite and crinoidal facies, similar to parts of the succession of the Vajont Limestone.

How to cite: Božič, D., Košir, A., Mušič, M., and Štrok, M.: Stratigraphic constraints on the Jurassic carbonate platform succession of Trnovski Gozd, SW Slovenia: Strontium isotope dating of brachiopods and belemnites, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12099,, 2021.

Hannah Van der Geest, Johan Vellekoop, Pim Kaskes, Matthias Sinnesael, John Jagt, Patrick Degryse, and Philippe Claeys

The chalk deposits of the type-Maastrichtian, in the SE Netherlands and NE Belgium (the Liège-Limburg region), are characterized by abundant flint layers. Since prehistoric times, flints from this region have been used as raw materials for tool making. While the formation, cyclicity and lithostratigraphy of flint layers from the type-Maastrichtian have been previously studied, their stratigraphic, lateral and internal geochemical and petrological variability are still poorly constrained, posing challenges for tracing the provenance of flint tools. Therefore, in the context of the Maastrichtian Geoheritage Project, we are analysing in-situ flint samples macroscopically, microscopically and with micro-X-ray fluorescence (µXRF). The flint samples were collected from a 50-m-thick interval from the Upper Cretaceous Gulpen Formation at the former ENCI quarry (NL) and the Hallembaye quarry (BE). In contrast to averaged outcomes of bulk or portable X-ray fluorescence techniques commonly used for provenance studies of flints in geoarchaeology, the use of µXRF has the advantage of offering insights into the internal variability and heterogeneity of flints, by displaying relative distributions of major and trace elements within flint samples. Our preliminary results show that flint nodules from the Gulpen Formation can be subdivided based on composition. Flint layers in the middle part of this formation (Vijlen Member) show a high contribution of micrite, in addition to silica, and display a heterogeneous distribution of elements such as Ca, S, K, Fe, Rb and Sr, while flint layers from the overlying Lixhe 1-3 members consist predominantly of silica and have a more homogeneous distribution of chemical elements. Both types of flint layers contain biogenic inclusions, such as fragments of sponge spicules, echinoids, shells and benthic/planktic foraminifera, and other minerals, including iron sulphides and glauconite, but with a different abundance. The observed heterogeneity and variability within the flint nodules might not only be useful for tracing the provenance of flint tools, but could also provide insights into the complex formation of flints.

How to cite: Van der Geest, H., Vellekoop, J., Kaskes, P., Sinnesael, M., Jagt, J., Degryse, P., and Claeys, P.: Petrographic and geochemical fingerprinting of flints from the type-Maastrichtian (SE Netherlands and NE Belgium): implications for flint formation and provenance, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2335,, 2021.

Eleen Zirks, Thomas Westerhold, Matthias Schneider, and Gabriele Uenzelmann-Neben

Previous scientific ocean drilling expeditions have revealed that sediments deposited in the Kerguelen Plateau region have the potential to provide an out-standing chronicle of regional and global climate changes. In particular, this area is an excellent location to monitor subantarctic and high-latitude climate dynamics and obtain far-field information documenting Antarctic climate history in a world warmer than today.

Here we report first results from site survey RV Sonne cruise SO272 that sailed January 11 to March 4 2020 from Port Louis, Mauritius, to Cape Town, South Africa. During the cruise ~4000 km of high resolution seismic reflection data were recorded along 18 seismic profiles across the central and southern Kerguelen Plateau. At 11 stations sediment cores with recoveries of up to 10m were retrieved [GU1] to complement the seismic studies and provide ages of the outcropping sediment at the sea floor. Three gravity cores targeted the Labuan Basin recovering Plio-Pleistocene diatom ooze with drop stones and rhythmic changes in reflectance. Eight gravity cores targeted the Raggatt Basin with the main objective to penetrate through the upper undifferentiated layer of surface sediment and probe the below much older outcropping sediment. Carbonate rich sediments were successfully retrieved at three locations with microfossil assemblages of late Eocene age. X-ray fluorescence core scanning, benthic stable isotope and bio-stratigraphic data will be presented. Seismic and geological datasets will form the base for an IODP full proposal to drill a complete Miocene to Paleocene high latitude sediment package, build upon the #983-Pre IODP proposal.

How to cite: Zirks, E., Westerhold, T., Schneider, M., and Uenzelmann-Neben, G.: Kerguelen Plateau – outstanding Southern Indian Ocean archives of Cenozoic climatic and oceanographic changes, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5576,, 2021.

Sophie Westacott, Noah Planavsky, Ming-Yu Zhao, and Pincelli Hull

Diatoms are one of the most dominant primary producers in the ocean today and largely control the modern marine silica cycle. Their ecological expansion in the Cenozoic is thought to have lowered silica concentrations by two orders of magnitude and has been linked to the rise of grasslands and baleen whales. According to the fossil record much of diatoms' rise to dominance occurred in the past 20 m.y.; however, silicon isotope evidence suggests an earlier expansion. Using a diagenetic model and collated deep sea drill core data, we examine how changes in bottom-water temperature and sedimentation rates over the past 65 m.y. affected the burial efficiency of biogenic silica. We find that once taphonomic potential is taken into account there is no support for the traditionally recognized ~5-20 Ma increase in diatom abundance. These results help reconcile interpretations based on geochemical and fossil data, and add to mounting evidence pushing back the evolution of the modern silica cycle to before 20 Ma and possibly earlier than 40 Ma.

How to cite: Westacott, S., Planavsky, N., Zhao, M.-Y., and Hull, P.: The Role of Diagenesis in the Apparent Rise of Diatoms, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15868,, 2021.

Joanna Pszonka, Marek Wendorff, Magdalena Zielińska, and Paweł Godlewski

Facies analysis of the Cergowa Beds of the Polish and Slovak Outer Carpathians shows that this deep-marine siliciclastic unit was deposited by a spectrum of gravity flows ranging from high to low density, which deposited three facies associations (A, B and C). Association A consists of very fine- to medium-grained sandstones with mudstone and coal clasts, granules and rich in coalified organic matter fragments. Sandstones beds reach 8 m in thickness, are massive and subordinately parallel laminated (Ta and Tab). They are interpreted as resulting from incremental, rapid deposition from collapse of a near-bed layer (Ta, Tab) and laterally sheared near-bed layer (Tb) below high-density, turbulent flows and steady turbidity currents or, in case of mud-rich sandstones, en masse deposition by debris flows. Association B comprises very fine- and fine-grained sandstones with mud and coal clasts, granules and coalified plant fragments and detritus. They are massive, parallel- and ripple cross-laminated (Tab, Tabc, Tbc), reach 2 m in thickness and contain mudstone intercalations up to 50 cm. These sandstones seem to have originated from a combination of incremental deposition by high-density turbidity currents (Tab, Tb), low-amplitude bedload waves at the upper stage planar lamination in more dilute turbidity current (Tb) and suspension of fully turbulent and dilute turbidity currents (Tbc, Tc). Association C consists of very fine- to fine-grained sandstones and siltstones with fine organic detritus and minor mud clasts. Parallel- and ripple cross-lamination (Tbc, Tbcd) dominate, bed thickness of sandstones and siltstones amounts to 1-50 cm and mudstones reaches 200 cm. Association C was deposited by transformation of waning, dilute and fully turbulent turbidity currents from ripples into lower stage planar lamination.

Sandstone and mudstone beds at Lipowica (Poland) contain three types of coalified terrestrial organic matter. Based on their morphology and size these are: (i) coalified plant detritus dispersed in B and C associations, (ii) coalified plant fragments forming elongated lenses in A and B associations and (iii) coalified fragments of tree trunks occurring in A and B facies. Petrographic components of organic matter represented by collotelinite, telinite, gelinite and fusinite with co-occuring framboidal pyrite indicate terrestrial plants affected by fast gelification and burial processes of varying intensity. The size of the plant fragments supplied to the Dukla basin is positively correlated with indicators of hydrodynamic regimes suggested by their hosting sediments. Namely, the larger the fragments, the higher flow energy and steadier and longer lasting sustained sediment delivery.

Sedimentary features of the Cergowa Beds suggest deposition out of gradually aggrading sustained turbulent sandy gravity flows primarily controlled by hyperpycnal effluents from a delta. Palaeocurrent data and comparison of mineral composition of sandstone infilling a hollow coalified tree trunk at Lipowica quarry with sandstone beds of the hosting succession suggest provenance from shelf fringing the emergent Silesian Ridge, which acted as a source area to the west of the basin. The depositional age NP23 and NP24 during the Oligocene eustatic sea-level fall implies that the delta supplying the Cergowa basin was located at the edge of this shelf.

How to cite: Pszonka, J., Wendorff, M., Zielińska, M., and Godlewski, P.: Facies and provenance of deep marine sediment gravity flows with fragments of coalified land plants at Lipowica, the Cergowa Beds (Oligocene), Outer Carpathians of Poland, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13609,, 2021.

Laila Boubkari, Otmane Raji, Mohammed Achalhi, Muhammed Ouabid, and Jean Louis Bodinier

Elemental sulfur in sedimentary rocks is commonly associated with evaporites and authigenic carbonates. The genesis of this evaporite hosted native sulfur has been traditionally considered as a result of bacterial sulfate reduction under specific geological and paleogeographic conditions. Some biogenic sulfur occurrences are found in the Mediterranean area associated with the Neogene formations (e.g. Hellin, Lorca, Teruel, Sicily). They are described as interbedded layers in large evaporitic sequences or as sulfur nodules enclosed in secondary gypsum or carbonate deposits. Quite similar geological settings are present in Northern Morocco where several sediment-hosted sulfur showings were noted. However, these potential sulfur occurrences in the Pre-Rif and post-nappe Neogene basins have not been studied and still basically unknown. This work aims to explore these occurrences and assess their potentials using preliminary field, mineralogical and geochemical data. Several potential areas were identified at the Tortono-Messinian formations of Oued Amlil, Arbaa Taourirt, Taghzout Tassa, and Boudinar basins. They show favorable settings composed mainly of gypsiferous marls, carbonate, and organic matter-rich black sediments. In terms of sulfur contents, preliminary XRD data confirmed the presence of elemental sulfur and geochemical analyses show total sulfur content reaching 18.5 wt.%. However, further fieldwork combined with advanced mineralogical and isotopic geochemistry is still necessary for this area to try understanding their paragenesis in comparison with other similar Mediterranean occurrences.

How to cite: Boubkari, L., Raji, O., Achalhi, M., Ouabid, M., and Bodinier, J. L.: Biogenic native Sulfur linked to the Neogene deposits from the Riffian Corridors (Northern Morocco): preliminary study and characterization, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1738,, 2021.

Shahab Varkouhi, Nicholas J. Tosca, and Joseph A. Cartwright

Biogenic silica diagenesis leads to abrupt changes in the physical properties of host sediment across the depth of an opal-A to opal-CT transition zone. Predicting the present-day diagenetic state of this reaction boundary, i.e., active versus arrested opal-A to opal-CT transition zones, is imperative to constraining the diagenetic factors that impact dramatic variations in the physical state of sediment. This study assesses whether there are present-day signatures of active silica diagenesis in the interstitial water, and corroborates the potential for pore-water chemistry for distinguishing between ongoing precipitation of diagenetic opal and arrested reaction fronts. Interstitial-water chemistry, mineralogy, and thermodynamic analyses of the Ocean Drilling Program Sites 794 and 795 demonstrate that solubility equilibrium is reached with respect to opal-CT in the transition zones accommodated by the Neogene biosiliceous sediments in the Sea of Japan. Even though the dissolution of biogenic opal is triggering reverse-weathering processes, the equilibrium reached with respect to diagenetic opal strongly suggests that the dissolved silica depression across the transition zones is essentially influenced by ongoing transformation of opal-A to opal-CT. Owing to abrupt petrophysical variations linked to opal-CT precipitation, the interstitial profiles of major ions and primary parameters have also been impacted by silica diagenesis. The extremely low dissolved-silica diffusion fluxes in the sediment, the very low permeability of the sediment capturing silica diagenetic transformations, and the marked pore-water loss at the depth of the transition zone all support the fact that the dissolved species have not been diffused in the sediment at rates comparable to those by pore-water advection due to sediment porosity drop. Advective and diffusive mechanisms, however, appear to have ceased recently because they have failed to smooth out the traces of ongoing biogenic silica diagenesis.

How to cite: Varkouhi, S., Tosca, N. J., and Cartwright, J. A.: Ongoing biogenic silica diagenesis — Interstitial-water chemical signals, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-24,, 2020.