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Assessing anoxia, recovery and carbonate production setback in a hemipelagic Tethyan basin during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (Western Carpathians)

Abstract : The chemostratigraphic record of the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (T-OAE) is generally well documented in epicontinental basins; however, the duration of anoxia and recovery remains poorly constrained in the Tethys Ocean owing to limited stratigraphic resolution of oceanic sections with hiatuses. In this paper, we describe a relatively continuous hemipelagic record in the Central Western Carpathians of Slovakia (Skladaná Skala section), which contains the Pliensbachian/Toarcian boundary, the T-OAE, and the subsequent recovery phase. In our section, the Pliensbachian Spinatum Zone is represented by a ~ 7 m thick alternation of spotted, spiculitic marly limestones and limestones of the Allgäu Formation that contain moderately diverse trace fossils including abundant Zoophycos, Lamellaeichnus and Teichichnus. In the uppermost part of the Spinatum Zone, a ~ 0.8‰ decline in δ13Ccarb values marks the carbon isotope excursion (CIE) at the Pliensbachian/Toarcian boundary. This isotope anomaly is overlain by a ~ 3 m-thick interval of spotted marly limestones and marls, which contains a positive CIE that represents the base of the T-OAE. The T-OAE interval comprises a 60 cm-thick pyritic black shale interval that lacks bioturbation and shows a negative CIE (δ13Corg values drop by 4-5‰), coincident with an increase in TOC values (from 0.3% to 2-3%), and a drop in CaCO3 values (from 50 to 80% to 3-7%). The black shale is overlain by ~8 m thick marls with rare intercalations of marly limestones, which show ammonites of the Exaratum Subzone in the lowermost part (~1 m) succeeded by Serpentinum Zone beds. This unit exhibits a second positive CIE (δ13Corg increases by 2.5‰ and δ13Ccarb increases by 1.5‰), significantly more negative δ18O values relative to the pre-T-OAE interval, and a low diversity of trace fossils dominated by Chondrites and extremely thin Zoophycos. Sponge spicules re-appear in the uppermost 6.5 m-thick interval of the section formed by the alternation of spotted marls and limestones, with ammonites of the Falciferum Subzone in the lower part and of the Bifrons Zone in the uppermost parts; however, diversity of trace fossils remains low. Based on these findings, we argue that the 60 cm-thick pyritic black shale that represents the T-OAE is a strongly condensed succession because it includes the onset of the negative CIE and the subsequent rebound, and thereby encompasses the full duration of the anoxic event. Anoxia in basins open to the oceanic Tethys thus coincided not only with reduced carbonate production but also with reduced siliciclastic supply, generating very thin black shale deposits. In contrast to current-swept swells where black shales associated with hardgrounds are thin or missing owing to winnowing, carbonate starvation was induced by a calcification crisis coincident with the T-OAE and siliciclastic starvation was probably induced by rapid sea-level rise. Although bottom waters were not anoxic in the aftermath of T-OAE, bioturbation remained restricted during the Falciferum Subzone in basinal settings, indicating that environmental stress induced by limited ventilation and/or high bottom-water temperatures were persistent. The reduced diversity of trace fossils and the re-appearance of sponge spicules close to the lower/middle Toarcian boundary indicate that the ecological recovery in basins open to the oceanic Tethys was delayed, a pattern similar to the epicontinental seas that experienced anoxia.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 30, 2022 - 5:23:06 PM
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Tamás Müller, Szabina Karancz, Emanuela Mattioli, Rastislav Milovský, József Pálfy, et al.. Assessing anoxia, recovery and carbonate production setback in a hemipelagic Tethyan basin during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (Western Carpathians). Global and Planetary Change, 2020, 195, ⟨10.1016/j.gloplacha.2020.103366⟩. ⟨insu-03710126⟩

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