A sedimentological study of Cryogenian glacial-interglacial cycles recorded by the Port Askaig Tillite Formation on Islay, Scotland

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Institutionen för geologiska vetenskaper

Abstract: An interglacial mudstone sequence from the Port Askaig Tillite Formation on Islay was analysed using an Olympus XRF detector. The resulting geochemical log was compared with an XRF dataset acquired from a Quaternary sedimentary core from the Lomonosov Ridge in the Arctic Ocean. Chemical proxies representing climatic and environmental changes were analysed in an effort to specifically identify evidence of orbital forcing in the Cryogenian Period. The studied non-glacial rock-section from the Port Askaig Formation was interpreted as being deposited in a shallow marine setting at semitropical latitudes during an episode of global warming at some stage of the Sturtian glaciation (ca 717 – 660 Ma). The transport mechanism of glaciogenic material was by ice rafting. High hematite content was interpreted as an oxygenation event in a peritidal zone when isostatic rebound caused a sea level regression. Increasing amount of muscovite is interpreted to indicate increased weathering. Underlaying sequence of dolostone and overlaying sequence of sandstone were consistent with these interpretations. One interglacial phase is thus observed, which possibly could be attributed to Milankovitch orbital forcing. The interpretation of the paleoclimatic setting of the studied interglacial mudstone did not provide support for the Snowball Earth hypothesis in its “hard” version. Neither did other observations such as evidence of repeating glacial-interglacial cycles and banded iron formations (BIF) appearing also within the Sturtian glaciation.

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