Redox conditions across the Cambrian-Ordovician boundary: Elemental and isotopic signatures retained in the GSSP carbonates

Karem Azmy, Brian Kendall, Uwe Brand, Svend Stouge, Gwyneth Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Lime mudstone samples (rhythmites) were collected at high resolution from outcrops of the Cambrian-Ordovician GSSP boundary section at Green Point (western Newfoundland, Canada). The sequence (~45m-thick) consists of slope carbonates with alternating shale and siltstone interbeds, and it spans the boundary located between the Martin Point and Broom Point members of the Green Point Formation (Cow Head Group). Samples were extracted from micritic rhythmites by microdrilling and subsequently screened using petrographic and geochemical criteria to evaluate their degree of preservation. Although the δ13Corg profile (-29.7 to -25.6‰ VPDB) shows insignificant variations, the TOC values (0.1 to 4.1%) exhibit a generally upward decreasing trend. A negative δ13Ccarb excursion, reflecting a sealevel rise, marks a geochemical anomaly that correlates with an increase in the N contents (0 to 2.9%) of organic matter and the δ15Norg values (-0.6 to +6.0‰), which suggests a change to more reducing oceanic conditions. The U contents vary from 0.1 to 3.0ppm and the δ238U values (-0.97 to -0.18‰) generally decrease with the negative δ13Ccarb excursion. The U isotopic variations suggest a widespread increase in reducing conditions associated with sealevel rise during this interval. The investigated sedimentary rocks were slope carbonates where dysoxic conditions likely dominated throughout the entire section. Therefore, the changes in the TOC, N, δ15Norg, and δ238U profiles across the boundary are not as sharp as would be expected by a local change from oxic shallow-water to dysoxic/anoxic deep-water settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-454
Number of pages15
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015


  • Cambrian-Ordovician GSSP
  • Organic C- and N-isotopes
  • REE
  • Redox conditions
  • U-isotopes
  • Western Newfoundland (Canada)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology


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