From Greenhouse to Icehouse: The Marine Eocene-Oligocene Transition

By Donald R. Prothero; Linda C. Ivany et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
Sequence Stratigraphy of the
Eocene/Oligocene Boundary Interval:
Southeastern Mississippi

Ronald J. Echols, John M. Armentrout, Stephan A. Root,
Larry B. Fearn, James C. Cooke, B. Kirby Rodgers,
and Peter R. Thompson


ABSTRACT

Important sections for study of the Eocene/Oligocene boundary in North America are located in the eastern Gulf Coastal Plain within the states of Mississippi and Alabama. Pronounced east-to-west facies change from relatively thin, carbonate-dominated sediment to thick, overwhelmingly siliciclastic sediment complicates stratigraphic analysis of these sections. This multidisciplinary study of three cores and two nearby outcrops integrates data to address the facies complexity. The study (1) identifies the local Eocene/ Oligocene boundary; (2) clarifies the origin of specific depositional facies; and (3) provides an internally consistent local sequence stratigraphic framework for latest Oligocene to earliest Eocene strata. Data sets include foraminifers, calcareous nannofossils, marine and terrestrial palynomorphs, palynofacies, paleomagnetostratigraphy, strontium isotopes, and kerogen analysis.

The Eocene/Oligocene boundary, recognized by the last occurrence of in situ Hantkenina alabamensis, occurs within the time transgressive lithofacies of the uppermost Shubuta Clay and Red Bluff Clay. This interpretation is supported by both paleomagnetostratigraphic and published dinocyst graphic correlation data.

Two regionally significant condensed section lithofacies occur within the studied interval. A regional maximum flooding surface datum is interpreted within a condensed section located within the middle part of the Shubuta Clay. This condensed section is marked by distinct high gamma ray readings and is accompanied by an interval of fossil abundance, maximum water depth, and dominance of marine kerogen. Within the overlying Red Bluff Clay, an interval of burrowed horizons, shell hash, authigenic minerals and elevated foraminiferal abundance is interpreted as a composite-set of sediment-starved intervals associated with a distal delta foreset setting characterized by sediment bypass.

The youngest Eocene sequence boundary in the eastern Gulf Coastal Plain is located at the base of the Cocoa Sand member of the Yazoo Clay, within nannofossil Zone NP 19/20 according to our data. The oldest Oligocene sequence boundary is located within nannofossil Zone NP21 at the base of the Mint Spring Marl Member of the Yazoo Clay. The Eocene/ Oligocene boundary is located within the highstand systems tract between these two sequence boundaries.


INTRODUCTION

Some of the most important sections for study of the Eocene/Oligocene boundary in North America are located in the eastern Gulf Coastal Plain within the states of Mississippi and Alabama (MacNeil and Dockery, 1984; Toulmin, 1977). Although these sections have been studied intensively, there has been no consensus about the exact stratigraphic location of the Eocene/Oligocene (E/O) boundary within them or of their sequence stratigraphic interpretation. Marked differences in interpretation are possible because pronounced facies changes complicate the stratigraphy

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