The Sandstone Complex in the Brazos Riverbed Section: Geochemical Contraints on Genesis and Depositional Conditions

TitleThe Sandstone Complex in the Brazos Riverbed Section: Geochemical Contraints on Genesis and Depositional Conditions
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMunsel, D, Berner, Z, Stuben, D
Book TitleSEPM, Special Publication
VolumeNo. 100

The origin and deposition of spherule-bearing, dominantly sandy beds in a sandstone complex (also called ‘‘event deposit’’) below the biostratigraphic Cretaceous–Tertiary (KT) boundary plays a key role in models linking the KT mass extinction to the Chicxulub impact. This study, which focuses on the chemostratigraphy of this complex exposed in a ca. 60-cm-thick succession along the Brazos River, Falls County, Texas, U.S.A., aims to constrain the source of the material as well as the depositional conditions and postdepositional history of this highly controversial stratigraphic unit. Major and trace elements, as well as the isotopic composition of the Ca carbonate, contrast sharply with the underlying Corsicana Formation, indicating a dramatic change in the source of material and depositional conditions. Evaluation of geochemical data by principal-component analysis permits identification of (1) siliciclastic components, (2) ejecta material, consisting of altered impact-glass spherules, and (3) Ca carbonate. The ejecta material, originally represented chiefly by glass spherules with carbonate infill, is strongly altered to clay minerals with dominantly smectitic composition and is characterized by the element association Al2O3, TiO2, Fe2O3, P2O5, and SO2 and the trace elements (TE) V, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ga, and Mo. The occurrence of two moderately high Ir peaks (0.2 and 1.1 μg/kg) suggests the presence of tiny amounts of extraterrestrial material within the sandstone complex. Based on the contrasting abundance of Ni and Cu in chondritic meteorites and middle crust, the Ni/Cu ratio was used to trace the portion of extraterrestrial material in the sequence. The distribution of this ratio reflects changes in the amount of siliciclastic components added during deposition of the sandstone complex rather than variations in the amount of meteoritic material. The disagreement between evidence suggesting a prevalence of reducing conditions during the alteration of the ejecta material (pyrite inclusions in spherules; accommodation of Mn2+ by secondary calcite) and sedimentologic features which indicate that the sandstone complex was deposited in a dominantly oxic, high-energy environment strongly supports the case that the ejecta material in these deposits was subjected to reworking. PDF