Cyclic and Dyscyclic Black Shale Formation

  • A. Wetzel


Cyclic and dyscyclic sedimentary processes forming black shales are discussed. Based on cycle length and its lithologic character four main types of variations can be distinguished:
  1. (1)

    Mega-scale cycles correspond to periods of the earth’s history with frequently occurring black shales.

  2. (2)

    Macro-scale variations form lithologic units. They result from long-term changes in bottom water circulation, supply of organic matter, and sea level fluctuations.

  3. (3)

    Meso-scale variations are documented in black shale strata. Cyclic fluctuations of sea level and oxygen concentration and organic matter supply predominate, whereas dyscyclic processes are rare, i.e. rapid input of sediment or organic matter.

  4. (4)

    Micro-scale variations are documented in laminae or layers within black shale strata.


The preservation of cyclic sedimentary processes (annual varves) is mostly restricted to rapidly accumulated deposits, whereas dyscyclic events predominantly form layers and laminae. Furthermore, the composition of the fossil communities is often influenced by dyscyclic processes.


Black Shale Trace Fossil Lithologic Unit Bottom Current Turbidity Current 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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