Kerogen assemblages and δ13CKerogen of the uppermost Pliensbachian–lower Toarcian succession of the Asturian Basin (northern Spain)

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The Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event (TOAE) is characterised by a perturbation of the global carbon cycle and the widespread deposition of organic matter (OM)-rich strata/sediments in the northern areas of the West Tethys Shelf, in several northern European epicontinental basins. Contrariwise, in the southern areas of the West Tethys Shelf such as western and southern Iberian, and northern Gondwana margins, OM-rich strata/sediments are spatially and temporally restricted. To better understand the relationship between OM production, depositional conditions, and palaeoceanographic controls on the occurrence of OM-rich facies in the northern Iberian margin, we collected and analysed 18 samples from the Rodiles section (Asturian Basin) for geochemical (total organic carbon-TOC, total sulfur-TS, δ13CKerogen, and δ13CWood) and palynofacies analysis. The studied upper Pliensbachian–lower Toarcian succession has TOC values reaching up to 2.9 wt%. The relative dominance of non-opaque phytoclasts and the δ13CKerogen values (average of ~ −24‰) in the lowermost Toarcian (Tenuicostatum Zone) agrees with previous interpretations indicating that this area was located in a dominantly winter-wet climate zone. A change in the kerogen assemblages is observed at the Tenuicostatum/Serpentinum zones boundary (onset of TOAE), related to an increase in amorphous OM (AOM). A slight increase in non-opaque phytoclasts and terrestrial palynomorphs, and a negative δ13CKerogen excursion (reaching −31.5‰) is recorded in the same interval. These observations suggest a increase in continental weathering and fluvial runoff associated with more humid conditions, likely resulting in increased superficial productivity and deposition and preservation of OM under, at least, suboxic conditions. Above the TOAE interval, the δ13CKerogen record (values around −24‰) and the drastic drop in TOC and AOM content indicate that bottom water oxygenation improved after the TOAE. Our results demonstrate a link between early Toarcian climate dynamics and the deposition of OM-rich strata/sediments.
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