The palaeoceanographic crisis of the Early Aptian (OAE 1a) in the Vocontian Basin (SE France)


• Palaeoceanographic changes across the OAE 1a investigated in the Vocontian Basin.
• Cyclostratigraphic analysis give for the OAE 1a a duration of 1.2 Myr.
• Onset of both carbonate platform and nannoconid crises not linked to the OAE 1a.
• Shallowing of the calcite CCD suspected in the lower part of the OAE 1a.
• Deep water anoxia and enhanced fertility in the upper part of the OAE 1a.


The Vocontian Basin (SE France) which presents lower Aptian expanded successions characterized by major lithological changes, is particularly suitable to determine palaeoenvironmental changes occurring across the OAE 1a. A multidisciplinary study (sedimentology, CaCO3, TOC, carbon and oxygen stable isotopes, micropalaeontology, cyclostratigraphy) was carried out in the Notre-Dame-de-Rosans section in order to establish a detailed chronological framework of these changes. The OAE 1a corresponds to carbon isotope segments C3–C6, and it lasted for 1.2 Myr. A first drop in the carbonate production occurs 500 kyr before the OAE 1a (upper part of the carbon isotope segment C2), and could result from both onset of “Urgonian” carbonate platform demise and associated reducing export of platform-derived sediments into the basin, and nannoconid crisis. A second drastic drop (crash) in the carbonate production is recorded within the lower part of the OAE 1a (latter part of segment C3 to C5) and is explained by a strong dissolution. This study then shows that the onset of the major carbonate crisis, that occurs before the OAE 1a, could be due to both rise in sea-level and in marine surface water fertility, whereas its “acme” that occurs within the OAE 1a, could be related to CO2-induced ocean acidification. Black shales of the “Niveau Goguel” occur in the upper part of the OAE 1a and represent the lower part of segment C6. Surface-waters primary producers are principally represented by cyanobacteria, whereas nannofossil primary productivity is reduced, and deep-water anoxia prevailed during the deposition of “the Niveau Goguel”. The last 300 kyr of the OAE 1a are characterized by a partial recovery of both nannofossil primary productivity and pelagic carbonate production, which sharply increase just after the end of the event. This study also shows that organic-rich layers associated to the OAE 1a are diachronous in the Tethyan realm.

Giraud F., Pittet B., Grosheny D., Baudin F., Lécuyer C. & Sakamoto T., in press. The palaeoceanographic crisis of the Early Aptian (OAE 1a) in the Vocontian Basin (SE France). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Article (subscription required).

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