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Intrasediment gypsum in subtidal offshore carbonates as a witness of basin-wide evaporitic precipitation. The case of the southern Variscan foreland basin (mid-Carboniferous)

Published inSedimentary geology, vol. 464, 106605
Publication date2024-02
Abstract

Widespread calcite and quartz pseudomorphs, interpreted as originally gypsum crystals, occur within hemipelagic calci-mudstone accumulated in subtidal offshore environments in the broad marine foreland basin developed on the southern flank of the Ouachita–Alleghanian–Variscan Orogen during mid- Carboniferous times,which acted as a marine corridor connecting the Panthalassa and Palaeo-Tethys Oceans during the Mississippian, and progressively narrowed during the assembly of Pangea. In this study, 67 outcrops of radiolaria-bearing calci-mudstone deposits that contain calcite and quartz pseudomorphs located in northern Spain and southern France were studied to constrain the gypsum spatial distribution and sedimentological features. The recognised microfacies indicate intrasediment gypsum precipitation, accompanied by less abundant bottom-grown precipitates and gypsum cumulates, in extensive offshore, probably several ten to a few hundred metres deep, basinal environments. Gypsumprecipitation took place during a short-lived temporal episode during the early Bashkirian time (Voznesenkian), which can be correlated, on the basis of benthic foraminifera, with the coastal (inter- to supratidal) gypsum evaporites identified in NW Africa (Tindouf and Reggan successions in Morocco and Algeria) that would represent the shallow-water counterparts. The occurrence of gypsum precipitates both in offshore hemipelagic calci-mudstones of the Variscan foreland basin and in inter- to supratidal environments of the epeiric Sahara Platform indicates that hypersaline conditions affected vast marine areas, roughly coinciding with the estimated age of closure of the Panthalassa and Palaeo-Tethys marine connection. Therefore, the studied succession represents the trace of a basin-wide evaporitic episode extending for hundreds of kilometres driven by foreland basin restriction, mid-Carboniferous sea-level fall and arid climate. This study provides new insights for the interpretation of gypsum precipitates in offshore marine environments encountered in the Phanerozoic and whose genesis is poorly understood.

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Keywords
  • Marine evaporites
  • Intrasediment gypsum
  • Carboniferous
  • Variscan foreland basin
  • Barcaliente Fm
Citation (ISO format)
DÍAZ-GARCÍA, Iván et al. Intrasediment gypsum in subtidal offshore carbonates as a witness of basin-wide evaporitic precipitation. The case of the southern Variscan foreland basin (mid-Carboniferous). In: Sedimentary geology, 2024, vol. 464, p. 106605. doi: 10.1016/j.sedgeo.2024.106605
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ISSN of the journal0037-0738
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