Preservation of phosphatic wood remains in marine deposits of the Brentskardhaugen Bed (Middle Jurassic) from Svalbard (Boreal Realm)
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- Reolid, M., Philippe, M., Nagy, J. et al. Facies (2010) 56: 549. doi:10.1007/s10347-010-0219-z
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The exceptional record of well-preserved wood remains from the Middle Jurassic of Svalbard is studied from the taphonomic point of view. These remains were recovered from the Brentskardhaugen Bed, a conglomerate with phosphatic nodules, which constitutes the record of the eroded deposits corresponding to the Toarcian–Early Bathonian gap. The wood remains occur in the cores of these nodules. These wood fragments are preserved as phosphate (francolite) and as charcoals. The well preservation allows us to identify xenoxyloid cross-field pits and xenoxylean pitting on the radial wall of tracheid, characterizing the species Xenoxylon phyllocladoides. Phosphatic nodules originated as the result of early phosphate precipitation filling the inter-particle pore space of the sandy quartz sediment around the wood fragments (and other organic-rich nucleation centers) below the sediment–water interface. This phosphatization involved a sudden burial of the wood remains in the sea-bottom, the subsequent decay of the lignin, and a fast growth of carbonate fluorapatite forming phosphatic inner moulds. Fossil microbial biofilms induced the phosphatization. The dissolution/decay of the lignin is not possible in charcoal, and phosphatic casts did not develop in charcoalified parts. Some remains were not totally charred, with the lignin preserved only in reduced relicts that were later replaced by phosphate. The phosphate precipitation occurred in recurrent episodes during the Toarcian–Callovian as a result of distinct sea-level rises and the associated nutrification of the shelf. The phosphatic nodules were developed and reworked during the transgressive–regressive cycle of the Toarcian–Early Bathonian, as well as during the final transgression of the Late Bathonian–Earliest Callovian, which resulted in the Brentskardhaugen Bed.