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Wallin, 1989

Origin of the Lower Cambrian phosphatic bed at Vassbo, Sweden

Wallin, B.
JournalTerra Nova
Typearticle in journal


An extensive phosphatic bed characterized by a black apatite-cemented sandstone is developed in the uppermost part of the Lower Cambrian formation over the entire Vassbo area, Sweden. The thickness of the layer is generally 0.1 m, increasing in places to 0.2 m. The lower boundary of the bed is transitional to a sandstone; the upper boundary displays a contact that is both sharp and irregular with a Middle Cambrian bituminous black shale.

The phosphatic bed was diagenetically formed by inorganic in situ precipitation of apatite in a sandstone at a depth of about 0.2 m below the sediment-water interface, where reducing conditions were developed, as a result of oxygen consumption during the degradation of organic matter. Sulphur isotope data from associated pyrite suggest that organic processes, such as bacterial sulphate reduction, were also involved in the formation of the phosphatic bed. The depositional environment of the bed was a marine shelf with a zero to very low sedimentation rate. The upper part of the apatite-cemented sandstone was partly reworked by bottom currents as demonstrated by a board containing numerous pebbles. Sedimentological as well as chemical data confirm a southern hemisphere position of the Baltic Shield in the early Cambrian in which an oceanic upwelling and high organic productivity was the probable source of the phosphorus along the palaeo-west-coast.

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