- Copyright © 2016, SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology)
Numerous vertebrate and plant fossils have been found in ex-situ sandstone concretions near Isisford in central-west Queensland since the mid-1990s. These concretions are found in the Lower Cretaceous portion (upper Albian, 100.5–102.2 Ma) of the Winton Formation. The lower most Winton Formation is thought to have formed in a fluvial channel or flood-basin setting proximal to the Eromanga Sea, but due to the scarcity of good exposures, the local depositional environment at Isisford has not been ascertained. Minimal compression of vertebrate and plant fossils, a lack of grain suturing, predominantly cement-supported fabric, and fractures running through calcite cement, as well as fossil bone and framework grains, indicates that concretions formed during early diagenesis (pre-compactional or syndepositional). Calcite stable-isotope δ18OVPDB values range from −12.25 to −4‰, indicating mixed marine and meteoric pore waters, and δ13CVPDB values range from −5.3 to 4.1‰, indicative of both sulfate reduction and methanogenesis of organic material (including decaying vertebrate soft tissues) in the burial environment. The mixed marine and freshwater signature suggests a marginal marine setting, possibly deltaic or estuarine, connected to the regressive epicontinental Eromanga Seaway at around 102–100 Ma. This is not inconsistent with the lithology from nearby cores, coupled with Isisford fossil-vertebrate ecology (personal observation). Our research demonstrates the utility of investigating ex-situ concretions to refine paleoenvironments at localities where little or no outcrop is available and traditional facies analysis is impractical.