High-resolution outcrop gamma-ray spectrometry of the Lower Lias, Southern Britain
A detailed stratigraphic analysis of the Lower Lias of southern Britain using the technique of gamma-ray spectrometry is presented. Gamma-ray data were collected, at the maximum stratigraphic resolution possible, from the Rhaetian to Pliensbachian successions exposed in southern Britain in the Bristol Channel Basin, Wessex Basin and East Midland Shelf. The data, in the form of measured gamma-ray signatures and hence geochemical profiles, is placed within a biostratigraphic framework. The outcrop gamma-ray logs collected from the Somerset coast (Rhaetian - Lower Sinemurian) can be subdivided, on the basis of both total gamma-ray signature and elemental log-signature into 9 gamma-ray units. These units are at a higher level of resolution than the single LL 1 gamma-ray unit defined by Whittaker et al (1985) for the Blue Lias in the subsurface. Outcrop gamma-ray correlation is possible between Somerset and Glamorgan, in some cases at a resolution greater than that offered by ammonite subzonal biostratigraphy. This resolution of correlation suggests the presence of a stratigraphic gap in Somerset within the johnstoni Subzone of the planorbis Zone. The outcrop gamma-ray logs collected from the Dorset coast (Rhaetian - Pliensbachian) can be divided into 10 gamma-ray units. These gamma-ray units can be correlated with the subsurface succession in the Winterborne Kingston and the Burton Row boreholes. The ability to correlate across numerous fault blocks and between different basins suggests that the controls upon gamma-ray signature were probably regional. A model is presented in which the degree of detrital influence within a fine grained mud and pelagic carbonate depositional system can be qualitatively assessed. Proximal and distal mudrock facies can be identified from the Th concentration log with proximal facies characterised by a Th concentration 10 ppm and above and distal facies characterised by a Th concentration of 8 ppm and below. The Th concentration log can also be used to determine intervals of mudrock progradation (increasing Th concentration) and retrogradation (decreasing Th concentration). These signatures can be interpreted within a sequence stratigraphic framework, of which the genetic stratigraphic model of Galloway (1989) is most applicable to the Lower Lias of southern Britain. The succession can be divided into eight genetic stratigraphic sequences. Maximum flooding surfaces are inferred at condensed limestone horizons of low Th concentration. The distal expression of the sequence boundary (the correlative conformity) is inferred at horizons of highest Th concentration. The development of anoxia within the epeiric sea can only partly be explained in terms of sequence stratigraphy with anoxia developing during periods of relative sea-level fall and rise or not at all.