Integrating heavy-mineral, geochemical and biomarker analyses of Plio-Pleistocene sandy and silty turbidites: A novel approach for provenance studies (Indus Fan, IODP Expedition 355)

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© Cambridge University Press 2019. A multidisciplinary mineralogical, geochemical and biomarker study of Indus Fan sediments cored during International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 355 to the Laxmi Basin was carried out to define the different compositional signatures of sand, silt and clay. Upper Pliocene - lower Pleistocene turbidites from sites U1456 and U1457 were selected as the best candidates for this study. The integrated dataset presented here was obtained by coupling traditional and innovative bulk-sediment and single-mineral techniques on the same samples. Turbiditic deposits mostly consist of medium to fine silt, including rich and diverse heavy-mineral assemblages. Such a fine grain size forced us to push the limits of high-resolution quantitative heavy-mineral analysis down to as low as 5 μm. Heavy-mineral analysis allowed us to establish a Himalayan origin of the detritus in the studied turbidites. Heavy-mineral concentrations are higher in channel-fill than in overbank deposits. Mineralogical and geochemical data concur in revealing that fast-settling ultradense minerals such as zircon are preferentially concentrated in channel-fill deposits, whereas the top of overbank deposits are notably enriched with slow-settling platy phyllosilicates. Biomarker analysis represents a most suitable complementary technique that is able to investigate the provenance signature of the finer sediment fraction, largely consisting of clay. This technique allowed us to identify a largely terrigenous origin of organic matter at Site U1456 and an open marine origin at Site U1457. The latter site lies closer to the Laxmi Ridge, where thermal maturity increases with depth to reach the early oil window (127°C at c. 320 m below the seafloor).

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Geological Magazine

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