The White Stone Band of the Kimmeridge Clay Formation, an integrated high-resolution approach to understanding environmental change
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The Kimmeridge Clay is a Jurassic mudrock succession that shows Milankovitch Band climatic cyclicity. A key issue is to determine how the subtle changes that define this cyclicity result from climatic change. Using material from the Natural Environment Research Council Rapid Global Geological Events (RGGE) Kimmeridge Drilling Project boreholes, the White Stone Band was investigated at the lamination scale using backscattered electron imagery and quantitative palynofacies. Fabric analysis shows the lamination to represent successive deposition of coccolith-rich and organic-matter-rich layers. Individual laminae contain unsorted palynological debris with a consistent ratio of marine and terrestrial components. Such mixed organic matter input is interpreted as the result of storm transport. Linking water column processes to laminae deposition suggests seasonal input with a coccolith bloom followed by a more diverse assemblage including dinoflagellates and photosynthetic chlorobiacean bacteria. As the photic zone extended into the euxinic water column organic matter export to the sea bed underwent minimal cycling through oxidation and subsequently became preserved through sulphurization with greatly increased sequestration of carbon. This was significantly increased by late season storm-driven mixing of euxinic water into the photic zone. Increased frequency of storm systems would therefore dilute the coccolith input to give an oil shale. Hence climatically induced changes in storm frequency would progressively vary the organic content of the sediment and generate the climate cycle signal.