Stratigraphic correlations using trace elements in apatite from late ordovician (sandbian-katian) K-bentonites of eastern North America

Bryan K. Sell, Scott D. Samson, Charles E. Mitchell, Patrick I. McLaughlin, Alan E. Koenig, Stephen A. Leslie

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Abstract

The early Late Ordovician sedimentary rocks of eastern North America contain a relatively large number (>100) of widespread heavily altered tephra layers (K-bentonites). These beds represent an intense period of subaerial volcanism that occurred from ca. 455 to 449 Ma. The sedimentary rocks that contain these K-bentonites display complex regional lithostratigraphic relationships ranging from clastic foreland basin facies to cratonic carbonate platform facies. Accurate correlation of these ancient ash-fall beds is essential for testing chronostratigraphic hypotheses that attempt to connect these different tectono-sedimentary provinces. Despite the relatively thorough study of a few of these K-bentonites over the past several decades, the full stratigraphic potential of these beds has yet to be realized. To test the utility of the apatite trace-element K-bentonite correlation method on a larger scale, we studied over 200 K-bentonite samples from the Mohawkian Stage of eastern North America and statistically compared our results with previous studies on the same suites of K-bentonites. Electron microprobe (EPMA) and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) results show that apatite trace-element data provide unique bed discriminators. Each of the K-bentonite layers exhibits unique and reproducible trends in Mg, Cl, Mn, Fe, Ce, Y, and other trace-element concentrations in apatite. Statistical evaluation of results from our apatite analyses suggests correlations for 12 K-bentonite beds, providing a significant improvement in stratigraphic resolution. The stratigraphic relations indicated by these new K-bentonite fingerprints provide a rigorous means by which to evaluate some previous interpretations of biostratigraphic, chemostratigraphic, and sequence stratigraphic studies in eastern North America.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1259-1274
Number of pages16
JournalGeological Society of America Bulletin
Volume127
Issue number9-10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

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bentonite
apatite
trace element
sedimentary rock
Ordovician
stratigraphic correlation
hypothesis testing
foreland basin
tephra
carbonate platform
ablation
electron probe analysis
volcanism
ash
mass spectrometry
laser
plasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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Stratigraphic correlations using trace elements in apatite from late ordovician (sandbian-katian) K-bentonites of eastern North America. / Sell, Bryan K.; Samson, Scott D.; Mitchell, Charles E.; McLaughlin, Patrick I.; Koenig, Alan E.; Leslie, Stephen A.

In: Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 127, No. 9-10, 2015, p. 1259-1274.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sell, Bryan K.; Samson, Scott D.; Mitchell, Charles E.; McLaughlin, Patrick I.; Koenig, Alan E.; Leslie, Stephen A. / Stratigraphic correlations using trace elements in apatite from late ordovician (sandbian-katian) K-bentonites of eastern North America.

In: Geological Society of America Bulletin, Vol. 127, No. 9-10, 2015, p. 1259-1274.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "The early Late Ordovician sedimentary rocks of eastern North America contain a relatively large number (>100) of widespread heavily altered tephra layers (K-bentonites). These beds represent an intense period of subaerial volcanism that occurred from ca. 455 to 449 Ma. The sedimentary rocks that contain these K-bentonites display complex regional lithostratigraphic relationships ranging from clastic foreland basin facies to cratonic carbonate platform facies. Accurate correlation of these ancient ash-fall beds is essential for testing chronostratigraphic hypotheses that attempt to connect these different tectono-sedimentary provinces. Despite the relatively thorough study of a few of these K-bentonites over the past several decades, the full stratigraphic potential of these beds has yet to be realized. To test the utility of the apatite trace-element K-bentonite correlation method on a larger scale, we studied over 200 K-bentonite samples from the Mohawkian Stage of eastern North America and statistically compared our results with previous studies on the same suites of K-bentonites. Electron microprobe (EPMA) and laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) results show that apatite trace-element data provide unique bed discriminators. Each of the K-bentonite layers exhibits unique and reproducible trends in Mg, Cl, Mn, Fe, Ce, Y, and other trace-element concentrations in apatite. Statistical evaluation of results from our apatite analyses suggests correlations for 12 K-bentonite beds, providing a significant improvement in stratigraphic resolution. The stratigraphic relations indicated by these new K-bentonite fingerprints provide a rigorous means by which to evaluate some previous interpretations of biostratigraphic, chemostratigraphic, and sequence stratigraphic studies in eastern North America.",
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