Abundance and character of organic matter in cretaceous rocks of Central Texas.
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Clark, Stephen M. (Stephen Matthew), 1983-
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One of the basic tenants of organic geochemistry states that significant accumulation of organic matter will not occur in well-oxygenated aqueous environments. Changing abundance of sedimentary organic material, therefore, probably reflects changes in marine and terrestrial conditions on Earth. This study will document the abundance and character of sedimentary organic matter in Cretaceous rocks of Central Texas with the goal of reconstructing the environmental, chemical, and depositional conditions responsible for organic carbon accumulation. Organic carbon content in Central Texas ranges from .2 to over 1.5 weight percent. C/N ratios range from 5 to over 25. The C/N ratios are low in the Grayson and Pearsall formations whereas high C/N ratios are characteristic of the Walnut Clay and Lake Waco formations. Carbon isotope ratios of organic matter range from –28.8 to –22.7‰ (VPDB) with lower values occurring in the middle-Cretaceous. Lastly, most δ¹⁵N values of organic matter hover between 1 to 3‰. Although these data could suggest a terrestrial source, the influence of Cretaceous oceanic anoxic events could be causing a marine signature to appear terrestrial.