Sediments from the Argo Abyssal Plain (AAP), northwest of Australia, are the oldest known from the Indian Ocean and were recovered from ODP Site 765 and DSDP Site 261. New biostratigraphic and sedimentologic data from these sites, as well as reinterpretations of earlier findings, indicate that basal sediments at both localities are of Late Jurassic age and delineate a history of starved sedimentation punctuated by periodic influx of calcareous pelagic turbidites.
Biostratigraphy and correlation of Upper Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous sediments is based largely on calcareous nannofossils. Both sites yielded variably preserved nannofossil successions ranging from Tithonian to Hauterivian at Site 765 and Kimmeridgian to Hauterivian at Site 261. The nannofloras are comparable to those present in the European and Atlantic Boreal and Tethyan areas, but display important differences that reflect biogeographic differentiation. The Argo region is thought to have occupied a position at the southern limit of the Tethyan nannofloral realm, thus yielding both Tethyan and Austral biogeographic features.
Sedimentary successions at the two sites are grossly similar, and differences largely reflect Site 765 's greater proximity to the continental margin. Jurassic sediments were deposited at rates of about 2 m/m.y. near the carbonate compensation depth (CCD) and contain winnowed concentrations of inoceramid prisms and nannofossils, redeposited layers rich in calcispheres and calcisphere debris, manganese nodules, and volcanic detritus. Lower Cretaceous and all younger sediments accumulated below the CCD at rates that were highest (about 20 m/m.y.) during mid-Cretaceous and Neogene time. Background sediment in this interval is noncalcareous claystone; turbidites dominate the sequence and are thicker and coarser grained at Site 765.
AAP turbidites consist mostly of calcareous and siliceous biogenic components and volcanogenic smectite clay; they were derived from relatively deep parts of the continental margin that lay below the photic zone, but above the CCD. The Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous section is about the same thickness across the AAP; turbidites in this interval appear to have had multiple sources along the Australian margin. The Upper Cretaceous-Cenozoic section, however, is three times thicker at Site 765 than at Site 261; turbidites in this interval were derived predominantly from the south.
Patterns of sedimentation across the AAP have been influenced by shifts in sea level, the CCD, and configuration of the continental margin. Major pulses of calcareous turbidite deposition occurred during Valanginian, Aptian, and Neogene time—all periods of eustatic lowstands and depressed CCD levels. Sediment redeposited on the AAP has come largely from the Australian outer shelf, continental slope, or rise, rather than the continent itself. Most terrigenous detritus was trapped in epicontinental basins that have flanked northwestern Australia since the early Mesozoic.
|series||unknown||Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program: Scientific Results|
|journal||Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program: Scientific Results|