Late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) shallow water hydrocarbon seeps from Snow Hill and Seymour Islands, James Ross Basin, Antarctica
Fossil hydrocarbon seeps are present in latest Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) volcaniclastic shallow shelf sediments exposed on Snow Hill and Seymour Islands, James Ross Basin, Antarctica. The seeps occur in the Snow Hill Island Formation on Snow Hill Island and are manifest as large-sized, cement-rich carbonate bodies, containing abundant thyasirid bivalves and rarer ammonites and solemyid bivalves. These bodies have typical seep cement phases, with δ13C values between − 20.4 and − 10.7‰ and contain molecular fossils indicative of terrigenous organic material and the micro-organisms involved in the anaerobic oxidation of methane, including methanotrophic archaea and sulphate-reducing bacteria. On Seymour Island the seeps occur as micrite-cemented burrow systems in the López de Bertodano Formation and are associated with thyasirid, solemyid and lucinid bivalves, and background molluscan taxa. The cemented burrows also have typical seep cement phases, with δ13C values between − 58.0 and − 24.6‰. There is evidence from other data that hydrocarbon seepage was a common feature in the James Ross Basin throughout the Maastrichtian and into the Eocene. The Snow Hill and Seymour Island examples comprise the third known area of Maastrichtian hydrocarbon seepage. But compared to most other ancient and modern seep communities, the James Ross Basin seep fauna is of very low diversity, being dominated by infaunal bivalves, all of which probably had thiotrophic chemosymbionts, but which were unlikely to have been seep obligates. Absent from the James Ross Basin seep fauna are ‘typical’ obligate seep taxa from the Cretaceous and the Cenozoic. Reasons for this may have been temporal, palaeolatitudinal, palaeobathymetric, or palaeoecological.
Authors: Little, Crispin T.S., Birgel, Daniel, Boyce, Adrian J., Crame, J. Alistair, Francis, Jane, Kiel, Steffen, Peckmann, Jörn, Pirrie, Duncan, Rollinson, Gavyn K., Witts, James D.