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Mass/Age Distribution of Organic Carbon for the Phanerozoic

HAY, WILLIAM W., and CHRISTOPHER N. WOLD, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, and Geomar, Kiel, Federal Republic of Germany

The mass/age distribution of organic carbon in Phanerozoic sedimentary rocks is dominated by disseminated organic carbon in pelitic rocks. Even during the major times of coal formation, the mass of organic carbon in coal is small compared with that included in fine-grained marine sediments. The mass/age distribution shows maxima in the Middle and Late Ordovician, Late Devonian, Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous, and Neogene. Minima in accumulation of organic carbon mark the Early Ordovician, Early Devonian, Permian and Triassic, Late Cretaceous and Paleogene. Reconstruction of the ancient fluxes of organic carbon into the sediments shows that the distribution is almost symmetrical about the Paleozoic-Mesozoic boundary.

Major hydrocarbon source rock accumulations coincide with peaks of organic carbon deposition, but modes of formation of the source rocks at each peak may have been different. The peaks of organic carbon accumulation correspond to times of flooding of the continents. The Ordovician, Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous peaks also correspond to an increase in the ratio of carbon being deposited as organic carbon relative to that deposited as carbonate; they also correspond to times of deposition of large amounts of siliceous sediment. The Lake Devonian peak also formed at a time of flooding of the continents, but shows a low ratio of organic carbon to carbonate, and few siliceous rocks accumulated contemporaneously. The Neogene peak may

represent a fundamentally different accumulation mechanism, resulting mostly from coastal upwelling during a time of emergence of the continents.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91004 © 1991 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas, Texas, April 7-10, 1991 (2009)