Geochemistry of Campanian–Maastrichtian brachiopods from the Rørdal-1 core (Denmark): Differential responses to environmental change and diagenesis

R. Harlou, C.V. Ullmann, C. Korte, B.W. Lauridsen, N.H. Schovsbo, F. Surlyk, N. Thibault, L. Stemmerik

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Past marine environmental conditions can be reconstructed from geochemical signatures of both benthic and planktic organisms and particularly brachiopods have been extensively used for this purpose. However, it is seldom possible to investigate the links between environmental conditions and shell geochemistry in monospecific records over extended periods of time. Here, we present geochemical data from the ~ 100 m thick, brachiopod-rich upper Campanian – upper Maastrichtian chalk (~ 73.8–68.6 Ma) of the Rørdal-1 drill core (northern Denmark). Two species that lived attached to small substrate (Argyrotheca bronnii Roemer and Gisilina jasmundi Steinich) and one secondarily free-living species (Magas chitoniformis Schlotheim) have been studied for element concentrations as well as C and O isotope signatures. Each species has a unique chemical signature, with M. chitoniformis showing lowest Mg and Mn concentrations, A. bronnii the highest Mn concentrations and G. jasmundi the highest Sr concentrations. All three species display decreasing Mg/Ca ratios throughout the studied interval and distinct Mn enrichments in the Campanian–Maastrichtian boundary (CMB) interval. In the Campanian part of the succession, the three species are slightly enriched in 13C (median Δ 13C values of + 0.0 to + 0.5‰) and 18O (median Δ 18O values of + 0.3 to + 0.6‰) with respect to coeval chalk. In the course of the Maastrichtian, the two attached species acquire progressively lighter isotopic compositions with A. bronnii reaching δ 13C and δ 18O values > 1.0‰ lower than coeval chalk. The secondarily free-living species M. chitoniformis, on the other hand, becomes isotopically heavier and reaches δ 13C and δ 18O enrichments of ~ 1.0‰ at the top of the core. The observed differences between the species illustrate species-specific signatures of biomineralisation, diagenesis and response to environmental change. This geochemical complexity illustrates that a comprehensive geochemistry-based picture of the Late Cretaceous Chalk Sea can only be painted using detailed multi-species and multi-proxy datasets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-46
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2016


  • Brachiopods
  • Carbon isotopes
  • Chalk
  • Cretaceous
  • Diagenesis
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Palaeoecology
  • Trace elements

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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