Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results, Vol. 120. Wise, S. W., Jr., Schlich, R., et al., 1992.
Published by the Ocean Drilling Program, Texas A & M University, in cooperation with the National Science Foundation and Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc."


Five hundred meters of a unique Upper Cretaceous Cr-rich glauconitic sequence (Unit III) that overlies a 3-m-thick alkali-basalt flow with underlying epiclastic volcanogenic sediments was drilled at ODP Leg 120 Site 748. The Cr-rich glauconitic sequence is lithostratigraphically and biostratigraphically divided into three subunits (IIIA, IIIB, IIIC) that can also be recognized by the Cr concentration of the bulk sediment, which is low (<200 ppm) in Subunits IIIC and IIIA and high (400-800 ppm) in Subunit IIIB. The Cr enrichment is caused by Cr-spinel, which is the only significant heavy mineral component beside Fe-Ti ores. Other Cr-bearing components are glauconite pellets and possibly some other clay minerals.
The glauconitic sequence of Subunit IIIB was formed by reworking of glauconite and volcanogenic components that were transported restricted distances and redeposited downslope by mass-transportation processes. The site of formation was a nearshore, shallow inner shelf environment, and final deposition may have been on the outer part of a narrow shelf, at the slope toward the restricted, probably synsedimentary, faulted Raggatt Basin.
The volcanic edifices uncovered on land were tholeiitic basalts (T-MORB), alkali-basaltic (OIB) and (?)silicic volcanic complexes, and ultramafic rocks. The latter were the ultimate source for the Cr-spinel contribution. Terrestrial aqueous solutions carried Fe, K, Cr, Si, and probably Al into the marine environment, where, depending on the redox conditions of microenvironments in the sediment, green (Fe- and K-rich) or brown (Al-rich) glauconite pellets formed.
The Upper Cretaceous glauconitic sequence at Site 748 on the Southern Kerguelen Plateau constitutes the transition in space and time from terrestrial to marine, from magmatically active subaerial to magmatically passive submarine conditions, and from a tranquil platform to active rifting conditions.