Patterns of local and global redox variability during the Cenomanian–Turonian Boundary Event (Oceanic Anoxic Event 2) recorded in carbonates and shales from central Italy

Jeremy D. Owens, Timothy W. Lyons, Dalton S. Hardisty, Chris M. Lowery, Zunli Lu, Bridget Lee, Hugh C. Jenkyns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Careful evaluation of the local geochemical conditions in past marine settings can provide a window to the average redox state of the global ocean during episodes of extensive organic carbon deposition. These comparisons aid in identifying the interplay between climate and biotic feedbacks contributing to and resulting from these events. Well-documented examples are known from the Mesozoic Era, which is characterized by episodes of widespread organic carbon deposition known as Oceanic Anoxic Events. This organic carbon burial typically leads to coeval positive carbon-isotope excursions. Geochemical data are presented here for several palaeoredox proxies (Cr/Ti, V, Mo, Zn, Mn, Fe speciation, I/Ca and sulphur isotopes) from a section exposed at Furlo in the Marche–Umbrian Apennines of Italy that spans the Cenomanian–Turonian boundary. Here, Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 is represented by a ca 1 m thick radiolarian-rich millimetre-laminated organic-rich shale known locally as the Bonarelli Level. Iron speciation data for thin organic-rich intervals observed below the Bonarelli Level imply a local redox shift going into the Oceanic Anoxic Event, with ferruginous conditions (i.e. anoxic with dissolved ferrous iron) transiently developed prior to the event and euxinia (i.e. anoxic and sulphidic bottom waters) throughout the event itself. Pre-Oceanic Anoxic Event enrichments of elements sensitive to anoxic water columns were due to initial development of locally ferruginous bottom waters as a precursor to the event. However, the greater global expanse of dysoxic to euxinic conditions during the Oceanic Anoxic Event greatly reduced redox-sensitive trace-metal concentrations in seawater. Pyrite sulphur isotopes document a positive excursion during the Oceanic Anoxic Event. Carbonate I/Ca ratios were generally low, suggesting locally reduced bottom-water oxygen conditions preceding the event and relatively increased oxygen concentrations post-event. Combined, the Furlo geochemical data suggest a redox-stratified water column with oxic surface waters and a shallow chemocline overlying locally ferruginous bottom waters preceding the event, globally widespread euxinic bottom waters during the Oceanic Anoxic Event, followed by chemocline shallowing but sustained local redox stratification following the event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-185
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Geochemistry
  • Oceanic Anoxic Event
  • Oceanic Anoxic Event 2
  • redox conditions
  • sulphur
  • trace metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Stratigraphy


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