One of the new directions in the field of Cretaceous research is to elucidate the mechanism of the sedimentary transition from the Cretaceous black shales to oceanic red beds. A chemical sequential extraction method was applied to these two types of rocks from southern Tibet to investigate the burial records of reactive iron. Results indicate that carbonate‐associated iron and pyrite are relatively enriched in the black shales, but depleted or absent in red beds. The main feature of the reactive iron in the red beds is relative enrichment of iron oxides (largely hematite), which occurred during syn‐depostion or early diagenesis. The ratio between iron oxides and the total iron indicates an oxygen‐enriched environment for red bed deposition. A comparison between the reactive iron burial records and proxies of paleo‐productivity suggests that paleo‐productivity decreases when the ratio between iron oxides and the total iron increases in the red beds. This phenomenon could imply that the relationship between marine redox and productivity might be one of the reasons for the sedimentary transition from Cretaceous black shale to oceanic red bed deposition.
Cretaceous oceanic red beds (CORBs) represented by red shales and mark, were deposited during the Cretaceous and early Paleocene, predominantly in the Tethyan realm, in lower slope and abyssal basin environments. Detailed studies of CORBs are rare; therefore, we compiled CORBs data from deep sea ocean drilling cores and outcrops of Cretaceous rocks subaerially exposed in southern Europe, northwestern Germany, Asia and New Zealand. In the Tethyan realm, CORBs mainly consist of reddish or pink shales, limestones and marlstones. By contrast, marlstones and chalks are rare in deep-ocean drilling cores. Upper Cretaceous marine sediments in cores from the Atlantic Ocean are predominantly various shades of brown, reddish brown, yellowish brown and pale brown in color. A few red, pink, yellow and orange Cretaceous sediments are also present. The commonest age of CORBs is early Campanian to Maastrichtian, with the onset mostly of oxic deposition often after Oceanic Anoxic Events (OAEs), during the early Aptian, late Albian-early Turonian and Campanian. This suggests an indicated and previously not recognized relationship between OAEs, black shales deposition and CORBs. CORBs even though globally distributed, are most common in the North Atlantic and Tethyan realms, in low to mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere; in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean in the mid to high latitudes of the southern hemisphere; and are less frequent in the central Pacific Ocean. Their widespread occurrence during the late Cretaceous might have been the result of establishing a connection for deep oceanic current circulation between the Pacific and the evolving connection between South and North Atlantic and changes in oceanic basins ventilation.
The Neoproterozoic Jiangnan orogen plays an important role in the study of the Precambrian tectonic evolution of South China. The tectonic nature of the Neoproterozoic sedimentary basins is still controversial, due to poor understanding of the sedimentary sequences and the lack of geochronological data. Here, we present sedimentological, provenance and geochronological data from the Heshangzhen Group in the eastern Jiangnan orogen. Sedimentological analysis shows that the Luojiamen Formation was deposited in a submarine fan, and the overlying Hongchicun Formation was deposited in front of a fan delta. The youngest detrital zircons constrain the lower Luojiamen and Hongchicun formations with ages of 827.3 ± 8.4 Ma and 825 ± 12 Ma, respectively. The sandstones of the Luojiamen Formation are characterized by a large number of intermediate to felsic volcanic grains, suggesting a volcanic arc source. In contrast, quartz and sedimentary lithic grains increase in the Hongchicun Formation, showing a new input from a collisional orogenic source. Detrital zircon from six sandstone samples in the Luojiamen and Hongchicun formations yield similar age spectra of 930–820 Ma with a peak at ca. 845–860 Ma, with one main cluster at 930–820 Ma. Detrital zircons of 930–845 Ma show a positive value of ∊Hf (t) (+2.4 to +11, mean +7.6), which is similar to the volcanic arc of the nearby Shuangxiwu Group. There are a minor group of zircons with U‐Pb ages ranging from 820 Ma to 845 Ma from the middle part of the Luojiamen Formation and Hongchicun Formation, with ∊Hf (t) values between –20 to +2.4, which are consistent with the characteristics of the Shuangqiaoshan Group. within light of the bidirectional paleocurrents in the Luojiamen Formation, it is speculated that the zircons of 820–845 Ma were recycled from the Shuangqiaoshan Group, which is derived from a continental arc to the northwest. Our data suggests that the Luojiamen Formation was formed in an inter‐arc basin, while the Hongchicun Formation was formed in an accretionary wedge‐top basin. When juxtaposed with the conglomeratic characteristics at the bottom of the Luojiamen Formation, it is believed that the unconformity represented by the ‘Shen Gong Movement’ reflects the rapid erosion and accumulation process of island arc volcanic material. The disconformity between the Luojiamen and Hongchicun formations is the imprint of transition from inter‐arc basin to accretionary wedge‐top basin, which represents the collision between the Shuangxiwu arc and the Yangtze Plate.
As one of the mélanges in the southern side of the Yarlung‐Zangbo suture zone, the Saiqu mélange in southern Tibet is important for understanding the evolution of the Neo‐Tethys ocean. The age of the Saiqu mélange, however, has been debated due to the lack of reliable fossil evidence in matrix strata. Based on lithological similarities with platform strata in southern Tibet and limited fossils from exotic blocks, previous studies variously ascribed the Saiqu mélange to be Triassic in general, Late Triassic, or Late Cretaceous. Here we reported planktonic foraminiferal faunas from the matrix strata of the Saiqu mélange. The new fossils yield a Late Cretaceous age, which is so far the best age constraint for the mélange. Regional stratigraphic correlation indicates that the Cretaceous Oceanic Red Beds (CORBs) in Saiqu may be time equivalent to the CORBs of the Zongzhuo Formation in neighboring regions. Thus the Saiqu mélange should be correlated to the Upper Cretaceous Zongzhuo Formation rather than the Triassic Xiukang Group, as previously suggested.
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