Date of Award

12-1-2015

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Geology

First Advisor

Rimmer, Sue

Abstract

The environment of deposition of the Ohio Shale of the Appalachian Basin has been studied extensively using various geochemical proxies for each of its members. The accumulation of organic matter (OM) and its preservation in the Late Devonian-Early Mississippian black shales of central Kentucky have been studied extensively, especially the possible correlations between trace metal contents and water-column oxygenation. Previous work has centered on geochemical, petrographic, and isotopic analysis of samples collected throughout the central Appalachian Basin. Mechanisms for OM preservation include high productivity, enhanced preservation due to dysoxic or anoxic bottom waters, and a feedback loop due to high productivity that creates enhanced preservation through the periodic cycling and scavenging of essential nutrients. Usually, a combination of these factors results in the accumulation of enough OM to produce these black shales. This research shows the relationships between trace metal data and the environment of deposition of several cores taken along the eastern side of the Cincinnati Arch in the central Appalachian Basin. Whereas the indices do not all agree in every instance across the breadth of the study area, analyzed together a predominant environment of deposition has been inferred for the shales. The Sunbury Shale and upper part of the Cleveland Member of the Ohio Shale were deposited under euxinic conditions, the lower part of the Cleveland Member was likely euxinic in the northern study region and anoxic throughout the central and southern study areas, whereas the Huron Member of the Ohio Shale was deposited under a range of conditions, from oxic, to dysoxic, to anoxic.

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