The Cenomanian/Turonian carbon burial event, Bass River, NJ, USA: Geochemical, paleoecological, and sea-level changes

P. J. Sugarman, K. G. Miller, R. K. Olsson, J. V. Browning, J. D. Wright, L. M. De Romero, T. S. White, F. L. Muller, J. Uptegrove

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19 Scopus citations


The Bass River borehole (ODP Leg 174AX) recovered approximately 200 ft (61 m) of upper Cenomanian to lower Turonian strata from the New Jersey Coastal Plain, USA, including the expression of a global carbon burial event. The Cenomanian/Turonian (C/T) boundary is recognized at Bass River at ∼1935.5 ft (589.9 m) based on the contact of nannofossil Microstaurus chiastius and Eiffellithus eximius Subzones of the Parhabdolithus asper Zone. Carbon isotopic records of both Gavelinella and Epistomina show a large (>2‰) increase immediately below the C/T boundary, with maximum values of 6‰ in Epistomina and 4.3‰ in Gavelinella. The δ13C offset between these taxa is constant and we conclude that Epistomina, like Gavelinella, faithfully records seawater δ13C changes. Above the sharp δ13C increase, elevated δ13C and sedimentary organic carbon (>0.9%) values continue into the lower Turonian, culminating in a sharp δ13C decrease. High δ13C values in the uppermost Cenomanian-lower Turonian at Bass River correlate with a global carbon burial event recorded in Europe and the U.S. Western Interior; we estimate the duration of this event at Bass River as 400-500 k.y. Although the carbon burial event occurred during a long-term eustatic rise (10 m.y. scale), it occurs within a 1-2 m.y. long sequence at Bass River that indicates no relationship with sea-level lowering on the m.y. scale. The carbon burial event does not appear to be associated with maximum flooding either, indicating little correlation with sea-level rise on a m.y. scale. Within the sequence spanning the carbon event, there are at least 4 shallowing-upward parasequences (durations ∼350-460 k.y.) indicated by changes in abundance and type of Epistomina species, δ18O variations, and minor lithologic variations. The highest occurrences of 6 Epistomina species and the origination of Epistomina sliteri Olsson n. sp. are associated with the parasequences and possibly with higher δ18O values. There is no clear association of parasequence boundaries inferred at Bass River with the carbon burial event; thus, there does not appear to be a relationship of the event with sea-level change on the 100 k.y. scale. We conclude that while the organic carbon burial event was associated with a general long-term (10 m.y. scale) eustatic rise, the initiation and termination of the peak organic burial event itself were unrelated to sea-level change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-452
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Foraminiferal Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Palaeontology


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