Clay mineral assemblages as a tool in source-to-sink studies: an example from the Lower Cretaceous of the North Sea Basin

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  • Carlette N. Blok
  • Thierry Adatte
  • Jon R. Ineson
  • Emma Sheldon
  • Mads E. Jelby
  • Florian W.H. Smit
  • Bodil W. Lauridsen
  • Anderskouv, Kresten
  • Stéphane Bodin
The alternating marlstone and chalk of the Lower Cretaceous succession in the Danish Central Graben (DCG) are important for the understanding of the evolution of the larger North Sea Basin. This study focusses on the clay mineral assemblages of the upper Hauterivian – lower Aptian in the DCG and Danish Basin (DB) and their implications. Clay mineral assemblages are predominantly used to assess palaeoclimate. In this study, however, they were additionally used in a source-to-sink context. Kaolinite was found to form a dominant component of the clay mineral assemblage in the sampled wells of the DCG and in the DB, suggesting that a feldspar- or kaolinite-rich source was present and actively eroded in the region during the Early Cretaceous. Moreover, a decreasing gradient west to east of average kaolinite content is observed in the three studied wells for the early Hauterivian to late Barremian (BC9-BC17), with the highest content observed in the North Jens-1 well (av. 74%), followed by the Boje-2C well (av. 49%) and lastly in the Vinding-1 well (av. 39%). Due to the relatively rapid settling of kaolinite in marine environments compared to other clay minerals, this gradient suggests that the main clay mineral source was located in the south-western part of the DCG. Isochore maps, a new palaeogeographic map of the DCG and the western part of the German sector of the North Sea illustrates where Lower Cretaceous rocks are absent in this region, due to either erosion or non-deposition. Potential subaerially exposed highs included the distant Baltic Shield to the north, the Ringkøbing–Fyn High to the east and the Heno Plateau within the DCG, with the latter being located closest to the North Jens-1 well and containing feldspar-rich sandstones of the Heno Formation (upper Kimmeridgian – lowermost Volgian/Tithonian). During the Early Cretaceous, part of the Heno Formation was potentially subaerially exposed or subject to wave reworking/erosion in parts of the Danish and German sectors. The sandstones could weather into kaolinite and this structural high is therefore suggested to have been the main source area for this part of the DCG, with minor sediment influxes from the Ringkøbing–Fyn High and Baltic Shield. In addition, the overall decrease in kaolinite in the DCG from the late Hauterivian to the late Barremian indicates a climatic change towards drier conditions, with some minor, slightly more humid periods.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark
Pages (from-to)99-113
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 384956346