The Toarcian Posidonia Shale at Salem (North Alpine Foreland Basin; South Germany): hydrocarbon potential and paleogeography

Stephen Ajuaba, Reinhard Sachsenhofer, Francesca Galasso, Thorsten U. Garlichs, Doris Groß, Elke Schneebeli-Hermann, David Misch, Jonathan E. Oriabure

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The Posidonia Shale in the basement of the North Alpine Foreland Basin of southwestern Germany represents an important archive for environmental changes during the Toarcian oceanic anoxic event and the associated carbon isotope excursion (T-CIE). It is also an important hydrocarbon source rock. In the Salem borehole, the Posidonia Shale is ~ 10 m thick. The lower 7.5 m (1763.5–1756.0 m) of the Posidonian Shale and the uppermost part of the underlying Amaltheenton Formation were cored and studied using a total of 62 samples. Rock–Eval, palynological, maceral, biomarker and carbon isotope data were collected to assess variations in environmental conditions and to quantify the source rock potential. In contrast to most other Toarcian sections in southwest Germany, TOC contents are high in sediments deposited during the T-CIE, but reach a peak in post-CIE sediments. Biomarker ratios suggest that this reflects strong oxygen-depletion during the T-CIE (elegantulum to lower elegans subzones), but also during the falciferum Subzone, which is also reflected by a prolonged dinoflagellate cyst blackout. While sediments of the tenuicostatum Zone to the elegans Subzone are thinner than in neighbouring sections (e.g., Dotternhausen), sediments of the falciferum Subzone are unusually thick, suggesting that increased subsidence might have contributed to anoxia. The T-CIE interval is very thin (0.75 m). δ13C values of n-alkanes show that the maximum negative isotope shift predates the strongest basin restriction during the T-CIE and that the carbon isotope shift is recorded earlier for aquatic than for terrigenous organisms. In Salem, the Posidonia Shale is thermally mature and highly oil-prone. The residual source petroleum potential is about 0.8 tHC/m2. Graphical Abstract: (Figure presented.).
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Earth Sciences
Volume??? Stand: 10. Juli 2024
Issue number??? Stand: 10. Juli 2024
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © The Author(s) 2024.


  • Biomarkers
  • Carbon isotope excursion
  • Lower Jurassic
  • Palynology
  • Stable carbon isotopes
  • Toarcian oceanic anoxic event

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