Detailed bulk geochemistry and organo-petrography of outcrop Cretaceous sediments (with no significant effects of weathering) from the Calabar Flank, southeast Nigeria were performed to understand the organic carbon source, accumulation and degradation, and paleoclimatic, paleoceanographic and paleoenvironmental conditions in West Africa during Early Cretaceous (Aptian) to Maastrichtian times. This study was based on microscopic, elemental analyses (organic carbon, nitrogen, iron and sulfur), Rock-eval pyrolysis and carbon-isotope analyses. In general, the Calabar Flank shales are characterised by highly variable total organic carbon (TOC) contents, which range between .1% in Aptian - Albian Mfamosing Limestone and 9.9% in the Awi Formation sediments. The organic matter (OM) is a mixture of immature to early-mature marine and terrigenous OM of types III and IV. This is indicated by low hydrogen indices (HI value (1 - 19 mg HC/g TOC), T max (417 - 46°C), vitrinite reflectance %Ro (.39 - .62 %Ro), low to high C/N ratios (3.4 - 1158.) and high amounts of terrigenous macerals (vitrinite + inertinite). Based on carbon isotope, C/N ratios and sulphate reduction index (SRI), OM degradation (up to 7%, SRI > 2.5) is most pronounced for shales deposited in a marine environment. The geochemical and petrographic data indicate that local factors such as low bioproductivity, down slope transport and redeposition of sediments from a fluvial-deltaic basin to nearshore facies, shallower, oxic and mildly oxygen deficient environments, humid - arid paleogeographic conditions, specifically controlled the amount and quality of the OM during Aptian – Mastrichtian stages where marine sediments have been assumed to be deposited during the global anoxic events. Therefore, the order of the main factors controlling OM content in sediments are: input of terrigenous material transported from the land > low OM productivity by marine photoautotrophs > low preservation.
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