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Insights into glendonite formation from the upper Oligocene Sagavanirktok Formation, North Slope, Alaska

December 1, 2023

The type locality for the upper Oligocene Nuwok Member of the Sagavanirktok Formation (Carter Creek, North Slope, Alaska, USA) contains abundant occurrence of glendonite, a pseudomorph after the calcium carbonate mineral ikaite, which typically forms in the shallow subsurface of cold marine sediments. The region during the time of Nuwok Member deposition was located at a high latitude, similar to today, and the study site is characterized by sands and silty muds interpreted here to have been deposited in coastal and shelfal marine environments. Isotopic (Sr) and biostratigraphic (foraminifera) evidence presented here refine the depositional age of the outcrop to approximately 24 Ma. Glendonites occur in two basic forms: radial clusters, commonly centered around a single larger primary crystal ( approx. 10 cm; Type A) and larger single blades generally without accessory crystals (approx. 15–25 cm; Type B). Microscopic examination revealed a sequence of multiple types of replacive calcite that formed as a direct result of ikaite transformation: Type 1 rhombohedral crystals characterized by microporous and inclusion-rich cores and concentric zones, Type 2A, composed of clear calcite that overgrew and augmented Type 1 crystals, and inclusion-rich, microcrystalline Type 2B, which formed a matrix surrounding the rhombs and commonly dominates the outer rims of glendonite specimens. Type 3 calcite precipitated as fibrous, botryoidal epitaxial cement atop previous phases and is not ikaite-derived. These phases are distributed in similar ways in all examined specimens and are consistent with several previously described glendonite occurrences around the world, despite differing diagenetic and geologic histories. Stable isotope evidence (δ13C and δ18O) suggests sourcing of glendonite carbon from both organic and methanogenic sources. Glendonites of the Nuwok Member can therefore assist in the determination of a more comprehensive ikaite transformation model, improving our understanding of glendonite formation and the sedimentological and environmental context of their occurrence. Oligocene glendonites are uncommon globally; the well-preserved occurrence described here can allow future studies to better reconstruct Arctic environmental conditions and paleoclimates during this time.

Publication Year 2024
Title Insights into glendonite formation from the upper Oligocene Sagavanirktok Formation, North Slope, Alaska
DOI 10.2110/jsr.2023.060
Authors John W. Counts, Madeleine Vickers, Martha (Rebecca) Stokes, Whittney Spivey, Kristina Frank Gardner, Jean Self-Trail, Jared T. Gooley, Ryan J. McAleer, Aaron M. Jubb, David W. Houseknecht, Richard O. Lease, Neil Patrick Griffis, Martin S. Vickers, Kasia Śliwińska, Hannah Gail Dooley Tompkins, Adam M. Hudson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Sedimentary Research
Index ID 70251599
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center; Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center; Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center; Florence Bascom Geoscience Center; Geology, Energy & Minerals Science Center