Phosphoria Formation and interbedded units of the Park City Formation
and Shedhorn Sandstone in western Wyoming represent deposition along a
carbonate ramp at the eastern margin of the Phosphoria Basin, with portions
of the Phosphoria units reflecting periods of upwelling and widespread
phosphogenesis. Thickness-weighted slab-samples of these units were collected
at a maximum interval of 3 m along an 80+ m-length of unweathered core
and analyzed for major-, minor-, and trace-element contents.
Variations in sediment facies and organic matter and trace element contents largely reflect changes in Permian sea level. Changes in sea level in basin-margin areas, such as represented by the study section, may have affected the oxidation of settling organic matter, the foci of intersection of upwelling bottom waters with the photic zone, the rate of terrigenous sedimentation, and, ultimately, the overall environment of deposition. Our study suggests that phosphogenesis can occur under lowstand, transgressive, and highstand conditions in marginal areas, assuming water depths sufficient for upwelling to occur. Formation of phosphorite layers under upwelling conditions appears to have been most dependent on a lack of dilution by terrigenous sedimentation and carbonate shoaling. Differences in the geochemistry between two similar environments represented by the upper and lower Phosphoria units are largely attributed to higher rates of diluting terrigenous sediment during deposition of the upper unit. This is consistent with prior interpretations of a more shoreward setting for the upper Phosphoria.
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