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The Eocene carbonate platforms of the Ghomaride Domain (Internal Rif Zone, N Morocco): a segment of the westernmost Tethys

The Eocene platform deposits in the Moroccan Ghomarides have been studied. These marine carbonate platforms were located in the westernmost Tethys approximately 30°N and 0°–10°W during the Cuisian to Bartonian. The study includes observations from fossiliferous assemblages (such as larger benthic foraminifera and colonial corals), their palaeoenvironment aswell as rock texture and fabric. Eight microfacieswere identified that represent different ramp environments in a ‘distally-steepened carbonate ramp’ type of platform. The studied deposits are organised into a transgressive succession composed of three sedimentary cycles: lower Cuisian, middle Cuisian and middle Lutetian to Bartonian. In the lower cycle, photic inner to mid ramp environments in mesotrophic conditions were prevalent. In the second cycle, photic inner ramp (sea-grass) to mid ramp environments inmesotrophic to oligotrophic conditions were observed. The upper cycle, which is more extensive and variable, represents mesophotic mid ramp to aphotic slope environments and changes gradually from oligotrophic to eutrophic conditions. During the Eocene, larger benthic foraminifera were dominant overtaking the zooxanthellate corals in the Tethys regions. Nevertheless, our study and the performed comparison with other Tethyan sectors have revealed that in some areas both coexisted in similar proportions. In some western Tethys regions close to the Atlantic Ocean, coinciding with areas influenced by upwelling currents, larger benthic foraminifera and coral build-ups were replaced by oyster reefs. The Ghomaride Domain represents an intermediate case between fossil assemblages of the northern Tethyan margin and eastern sector of the southern margin of the Tethys, with a dominance of larger benthic foraminifera but with a certain presence of corals as well. A good correlation exists between Eocene warm intervals and carbonate platform deposits in these domains. Contrarily, during cooling ones shallowing and gaps in the sedimentation are registered.

A synthetic column of the Eocene Ghomaride succession, highlighting the correlation with transgressive–regressive depositional trends, terrigenous-nutrient inputs, sedimentary environments, photic and trophic conditions and main biotic assemblages.

Two anomalies have been detected in the Ghomaride Domain during Ypresian and Bartonian times indicating particular climatic conditions or local tectonic interferences.

Cite as: Martín-Martín, M., Tosquella, J., Guerrera, F., Maaté, A., Hlila, R., Maaté, S., Tramontana, M., Le Breton, E., 2023. The Eocene carbonate platforms of the Ghomaride Domain (Internal Rif Zone, N Morocco): a segment of the westernmost Tethys. Sediment. Geol. 452, 106423. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sedgeo.2023.106423

Eocene carbonate platform of the Malaguides of the westermost Tethys

 The Eocene Peñicas (Almería) and Harania (Málaga) stratigraphic sections from the Malaguide Complex (Betic Cordillera, South Spain) belonging to the Mesomediterranean Microplate from the westernmost Tethys (about  35◦N) have been studied. The Eocene sections cover the Cuisian to middle Lutetian deposits, which show several lithofacies representing shallow marine platform realms. Based on the fossiliferous assemblage, texture and fabrics, eight microfacies related to inner to outer ramp settings were defined. In the inner ramp of the Harania section abundant colonial corals have been recognized. The Eocene deposits are arranged into a transgressive succession composed by three minor transgressive-regressive sedimentary cycles. The Eocene fossiliferous assemblage shows a mixture of photozoan (Larger Bentic Foraminifera, green and red calcareous algae and corals) and heterotrophic (mollusks, echinoids, bryozoans, small benthic and planktic foraminifers) elements, suggesting euphotic to mesophotic conditions in oligo-mesotrophic marine warm-waters at low-middle latitudes. This assemblage indicates a transition from photozoan to heterozoan carbonates and in particular a shift towards outer marine ramp settings.

Paleogeographic and paleoenvironmental 3D-sketch model of the Central-Western Malaguides with location of facies and microfacies during the Eocene.

During the Early Eocene, the widespread distribution of Larger Benthic Foraminifera leads in the Tethyan domains to disappearance or extreme reduction of coral constructions. Nevertheless, abundant corals associated to inner ramp realms have been observed in the Harania stratigraphic section indicating that corals could continue to develop in the westernmost Tethys at the transition to the Atlantic Ocean, in contrast with respect to other Tethyan sectors. Therefore, the Ypresian-Lutetian time-span is a transitional period for the global temperature during which corals locally survived only where optimal ecologic conditions occurred, preferably in marginal contexts, as it seems to have happened in the studied area. 

Cite as: Tosquella, J., Martín-Martín, M., Guerrera, F., Serrano, F., Tramontana, M., 2022. The Eocene carbonate platform of the central-western Malaguides (Internal Betic Zone, S Spain) and its meaning for the Cenozoic paleogeography of the westermost Tethys. Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclimatol. Palaeoecol. 589, 110840. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2022.110840