The sulphur geochemistry of Jurassic source rocks
In immature Jurassic shales of differing depositional environment from Great Britain (Ro<0.5) the C32 hopane and C29 sterane isomerisation provide an accurate indication of relative maturities. For mature Viking Graben samples (Ro>0.7) a reliable indication of relative maturity is gained if Tmax, Ts(Ts+Tm), C29ββ/(ββ+αα) steranes and the Triaromatic Index are considered together. The most reliable parameters for the determination of depositional redox are pristane/phytane and the C35/C34 homohopane ratio, together with the concentrations of V, Cu, Ni and Mo. In the brackish lagoon of the Brora Coal Formation (BCF) low sulphate availability does not appear to have limited the pyritisation of iron relative to the open marine facies of the Brora Argillaceous Formation (BAF). Despite this δ34Spyrite for BCF samples indicates that sulphate reduction took place in a closed system due to the rapid depletion of available sulphate. Only low concentrations of excess H2S were available for incorporation within the organic matter, organic sulphur abundances in the BCF being much lower than for the BAF. In open-marine sequences an increase in TOC is associated with an increase in anoxia, the preservation of hydrogen-rich organic matter and the abundance of organic sulphur. A generally correlated increase in pyrite sulphur suggests both these modes of sulphur are associated with increasing concentrations of diagenetic sulphides (H2S and its partial oxidation products) generated through bacterial sulphate reduction. The greatest abundances of organic sulphur are formed when sulphide concentrations are high whilst sub-oxic surficial sediments are maintained so that polysulphides are generated within the sediment (by partial oxidation of H2S) for rapid sulphur incorporation. Improved preservation of labile organic matter leads to a increase in the abundance of organic compounds (e.g. sterenes and phytol derivatives) in which suitable functionalities exist for sulphur incorporation.