Date of this Version
Published in Sedimentology 59 (2012), pp 1769–1781.
Iron-bearing concretions are valuable records of oxidation states of subsurface waters, but the first concretions to form can be altered drastically during later diagenetic events. Distinctive concretions composed of heavy rinds of iron oxide that surround iron-poor, mud-rich cores are common along bases of fluvial cross-bed sets of the Cretaceous Dakota Formation, Nebraska, USA. Concretion rinds thicken inward and cores contain 46 to 89% void space. Millimeter-scale spherosiderites are abundant in palaeosols that developed in floodplain facies. Evolution of rinded concretions began when intraformational clasts were eroded from sideritic soils, transported, abraded and deposited in river channels. Alteration of siderite and formation of rinds occurred much later, perhaps in the Quaternary when sandstone pore waters became oxic. Dakota concretions are analogous to ‘rattlestones’ in Pleistocene fluvial channels of The Netherlands, and their rinded structure is analogous to that of iron-rich concretions in the aeolian Navajo Sandstone of Utah. In all three deposits, rinded concretions formed when pre-existing, siderite-cemented concretions were oxidized within a sand matrix. Unlike fluvial examples, siderite in the Navajo Sandstone was autochthonous and of late diagenetic origin, having precipitated from carbon dioxide and methane-enriched waters moving through folded and jointed strata. Iron-rich rinds formed in all these strata because concretion interiors remained anaerobic, even as oxygen accumulated in the pore waters of their surrounding, permeable matrix. Iron oxide first precipitated at redox boundaries at concretion perimeters and formed an inward-thickening rind. Acid generated by the oxidation reaction drove siderite dissolution to completion, creating the iron-poor core. Iron-oxide rinds are indicators of the former presence of siderite, a mineral that forms only under reducing conditions, during either early or late diagenesis. Siderite is vulnerable to complete oxidation upon exposure, so the distinctive rinded concretions are valuable clues that aid in deciphering diagenetic histories and for recognizing methanic floodplain paleoenvironments and wet paleoclimate.