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Continental chemical weathering during the Early Cretaceous Oceanic Anoxic Event (OAE1b): a case study from the Fuxin fluvio-lacustrine basin, Liaoning Province, NE China

  • Xu, Xiao-Tao1, 2
  • Shao, Long-Yi1
  • Lan, Bo3
  • Wang, Shuai1
  • Hilton, Jason4
  • Qin, Jian-Yi3
  • Hou, Hai-Hai5
  • Zhao, Jie3
  • 1 China University of Mining and Technology (Beijing), Beijing, 100083, China , Beijing (China)
  • 2 Shandong University of Science and Technology, Qingdao, 266590, China , Qingdao (China)
  • 3 Northeast China Coalfield Geology Bureau 107 Exploration Team, Fuxin, 123000, China , Fuxin (China)
  • 4 University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK , Birmingham (United Kingdom)
  • 5 College of Mining, Liaoning Technical University, Fuxin, 123000, China , Fuxin (China)
Published Article
Journal of Palaeogeography
Springer Singapore
Publication Date
Apr 26, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s42501-020-00056-y
Springer Nature


This study focuses on Early Cretaceous mudstones from the Shahai and Fuxin formations in the Fuxin continental basin. We analyse chemical weathering, land surface temperatures and palaeoclimates based on chemical weathering indices, and emphasize the implications of continental chemical weathering on nutrient fluxes into lakes and oceans. According to Cr and Ni abundance, Al2O3-TiO2, La/Sc-Th/Co and V-Ni-Th×10 plots, as well as rare earth element (REE) analysis, mudstone samples from the Shahai and Fuxin formations were derived from the same type of provenance comprising mainly felsic igneous rocks. Chemical weathering trends reflected by the Chemical Index of Alteration (CIA), Weathering Index of Parker (WIP) and the Mafic Index of Alteration for Oxidative weathering environments (MIA(O)) are consistent with each other and allow the geological succession to be divided into four stages. Land surface temperatures of the Shahai and Fuxin formations are estimated based on the linear relationship of CIA to temperature, and also can be divided into four stages consistent with those determined from chemical weathering trends. During Stage A (early part of the late Aptian) chemical weathering and land surface temperatures were relatively low and showed characteristic high fluctuations, while Stage B (latest Aptian) represented a transitional period where weathering rates and temperatures increased, and high amplitude fluctuations continued. Conditions changed markedly in Stage C (early Albian) with very high and stable weathering, and warm, humid climates, while in Stage D (middle and late Albian) conditions returned to low chemical weathering and land surface temperatures. These stages of chemical weathering and land surface temperature fluctuations represent responses to global climate fluctuations during the Early Cretaceous, with the early Albian high weathering intensities and warm, humid climates combining to create high nutrient levels that would have flushed through rivers into lakes and ultimately oceans. This correlates stratigraphically with the development of Early Cretaceous black shales during Ocean Anoxic Event 1b, showing the importance of continental weathering regimes as a causal mechanism for lake and ocean anoxia.

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