Sedimentology and chemostratigraphy of Carboniferous red beds in the western Moncton Basin, Sussex area, New Brunswick, Canada: possible evidence for a middle Mabou Group unconformity
The area around Penobsquis, east of Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada, is an important location of natural resources for the province. The McCully gas field produces from strata of the Mississippian Horton Group whereas younger strata of the Windsor Group are host to major potash and rocksalt deposits. Overlying these units are over 1 km of poorly understood red beds currently assigned to the Mississippian Mabou Group. To date, this latter unit lacks significant marker beds and has had no useful biostratigraphic recovery, despite recent extraction of close to 5 km of drill core. Research on this core broadly identifies siltstone and sandstone at the base of the Mabou Group that gradually coarsen up into conglomerate. The succession is considered the result of alluvial-fan progradation from the northeast. Within this succession, in several of the cores, is a single interval of localized, horizontally laminated to cross-stratified, bluish-grey sandstone, containing carbonaceous plant fragments and siltstone intraclasts. To assess the importance of this interval in the context of the red bed succession, a total of 131 samples of core from three boreholes have been analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma and spectroscopic techniques to determine chemostratigraphy. Study of various elemental ratios can delineate two packages, one that corresponds to the grey interval and overlying red beds, and the other to the underlying red beds. Changes in the elemental ratios are interpreted to mark a broader population of mineral species related to greater variation of provenance and diagenesis in the upper sediment package. The reduced horizons and rip-up clasts may have been produced by sediment reworking along a boundary that represents an unconformity (in core, a disconformity) at a stratigraphic level near to where one has been inferred by other workers.
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