- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012
The composition of the soluble organic matter of the Oxfordian–Kimmeridgian Flodigarry Shale Member (Isle of Skye, Scotland) is presented for the first time. A continuous succession of silty clays and nodular limestone beds is exposed on a rocky shore to the north of Staffin Bay. This succession is proposed as a potential stratotype of the boundary between the Oxfordian and Kimmeridgian stages. This paper points out the exceptional preservation and very low thermal degradation of the organic matter. Indeed, the molecular composition is characterized by the abundance of unsaturated biomarkers (hopenes and diasterenes) as well as undamaged bioterpenoids (ferruginol and sugiol). The abundance of long-chain n-alkanes characterized by an odd-over-even predominance reveals a dominant continental contribution. This is also attested to by the relatively high amounts of plant biomarkers (e.g. ferruginol, sugiol, cadalene and retene), which suggest a palaeovegetation largely composed of pinophytes, especially Cupressaceae, Taxodiaceae and Cheirolepidiaceae, on the nearest emerged lands. The water column of the depositional environment was oxic in its upper part and rather dysoxic in its lower part. The composition of the organic matter does not significantly change along the Flodigarry Shale Member. In other words, no evolutionary events or drastic change in palaeoenvironments can be deduced from the molecular content of these sedimentary rocks, and it does not allow us to support a precise location for the Oxfordian/Kimmeridgian boundary in the succession.