CLEAR AS MUD: CHANGES IN PALEOSHELF ENVIRONMENTS AND DEPOSITION RATES AT MEDFORD, NEW JERSEY DURING THE PALEOCENE-EOCENE THERMAL MAXIMUM
The New Jersey shelf sediments of the Marlboro Formation records this time period with exceptionally thick (5-15m) records of the period of global low carbon isotopic values (“the core”) which requires minimum sedimentation rates of 10’s cm/kyr. Rhythmic layers have been previously reported from Wilson Lake & Millville, NJ (IODP Leg 174AX). These structures coined “laminae couplets” consist of semi-periodic 1-2mm thick raised laminations separated by matrix of varying width (averaging 1.8cm). These have been dismissed as artifacts of drilling “biscuits”. We report here on a series of shallow auger cores drilled on a transect at Medford, NJ, without using drilling fluid. These cores also show a similar set of structures on the ~2cm scale verifying that they are primary depositional features. The mm width laminae in the auger core show remarkable swelling within minutes of splitting.
XRD, XRF, bulk carbonate geochemistry, and grain size analysis have been determined at regular depth intervals throughout the core. We have analyzed differences in these parameters between the laminae and interbedded matrix material, as well as across the transect as a whole. In general, the Marlboro formation at this updip location consists of micaceous, lignitic, very clayey silt (mean size 6 micrometers) with occasional organic debris indicating proximal deposition from a fluvial system. Paleodepth of ~40m and normal marine salinities are estimated using a paleoslope model and the presence of common though not abundant planktonic foraminifera. We discuss a model of deposition for the Marlboro Formation as fluid mud (nearbed suspension flows) associated with the “Appalachian Amazon” alluding toward the finer grained inter-laminae representing settling events. These may be either hemipelagics associated with episodic flood events or seasonal periods of in-river sediment discharge and the benthic salinity front.