upper maastrichtian to lutetian nannofossil biostratigraphy, united arab emirates, west of the...
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Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56
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Journal of African Earth Sciences
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Upper Maastrichtian to Lutetian nannofossil biostratigraphy,United Arab Emirates, west of the Northern Oman Mountains
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2013.12.0081464-343X/� 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
⇑ Corresponding author at: United Arab Emirates University, College of Science,Geology Department, Al-Ain, 15551, United Arab Emirates. Tel.: +971 507435848.
Mahmoud Faris a, Osman Abdelghany b,c,⇑, Esam Zahran d
a Geology Department, Tanta University, Tanta, Egyptb United Arab Emirates University, College of Science, Geology Department, Al-Ain 15551, United Arab Emiratesc Ain Shams University, Faculty of Science, Geology Department, 11566 Cairo, Egyptd Geology Department, Damanhur University, El Beheira, Egypt
a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t
Article history:Received 27 July 2013Received in revised form 5 December 2013Accepted 18 December 2013Available online 9 January 2014
Keywords:BiostratigraphyNannofossilsMaastrichtian–LutetianUnited Arab EmiratesNorthern Oman Mountains
The latest Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) to Middle Eocene (Lutetian) interval of shallow water carbonaterocks in the NE part of the Arabian Pensinsula (Oman Mountains) includes important regional oil reser-voir units. These carbonates are richly fossiliferous in foraminifera, which have been useful in correlatingsequences and formations. Previous foraminiferal studies have indicated the existence of several hiatusesor lacunae related to sea level changes or due to erosion. Subsequent studies of the abundant calcareousnannofossils have permitted definition of these hiatuses via high resolution biostratigraphy. However,these previous studies were of limited extent. In this study a total of 103 nannofossil species were iden-tified from the upper Maastrichtian–Lutetian successions at Jabal Qarn El Barr, El Faiyah Range Mountains(Jabal Thanays and western side of Jabal Buhays), United Arab Emirates, as well as Jabal El Rawdah, westof the Northern Oman Mountains, Oman.
� 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Upper Cretaceous–Middle Eocene rocks are widely distributedin the western foothills of the Northern Oman Mountains (Fig. 1).The Upper Cretaceous sediments unconformably overlie the SemailOphiolite, the folded and thrusted Hawasina Complex and theSumeini Group of Permian–Late Cretaceous age (Glennie et al.,1974; Wilson, 2000).
The stratigraphy, facies and faunal content (larger andplanktonic foraminifera) of the Upper Cretaceous–Eoceneneoautochthonous sequence of the Northern Oman Mountainshave been discussed in numerous papers, including Glennie et al.(1974), Hamdan (1990), Alsharhan and Kendall (1991), Anan et al.(1992), Hamdan and Bahr (1992), Anan (1993), Anan and Hamdan(1993), Noweir and Eloutefi (1997), Noweir et al. (1998), Sayedand Mersal (1998), Boukhary et al. (1999), Alsharhan et al. (2000),Noweir and Abdeen (2000), Abd-Allah (2001), Abdelghany (2003,2006), Faris et al. (2012), Abdelghany and Abu Saima (2012) andAbd-Allah et al. (2013). Faris et al. (2012) studied the calcareousnannofossil assemblages of the exposed upper Maastrichtian (Late
Cretaceous) to Ypresian (Early Eocene) rocks at Jabals Malaqetand Mundassah. They reported a stratigraphic gap around the K/Pboundary where the Micula prinsii Zone and NP1 to NP2 are absent.The Danian/Selandian boundary lies at the base of Zone NP5, whilethe Selandian/Thanetian boundary lies at the base of the NP7/8Zone. The Paleocene/Eocene boundary lies at the base of the ZoneNP9b at Jabal Mundassah. However, in the Jabal Malaqet section,this boundary is missing due to a major hiatus indicated by theabsence of NP9b subzone and NP10 Zone. Zones NP10 and NP11are present in the Early Eocene (Ypresian) at Jabal Mundassah.
This present paper aims first to: (1) identify calcareous nanno-fossils of Maastrichtian to Middle Eocene age from the Simsima,Muthaymimah and Dammam Formations in three well-exposedsections in the United Arab Emirates and Oman; (2) define the Cre-taceous/Paleocene (K/P), Danian/Selandian and Paleocene/Eocene(P/E) boundaries based on these sections; and (3) subdivide thestudied sections into standard nannofossil biozones to enable con-struction of a high resolution biostratigraphy. The present studyextends to use nannofossils in delineating hiatuses along the upperMaastrichtian to Middle Eocene rocks in the studied area.
2. Materials and methods
Four well-exposed stratigraphic sections (Figs. 2–5) of theUpper Cretaceous–Middle Eocene sediments were measured and
Fig. 1. Regional map for the Northern Oman Mountains showing locations of the studied sections, modified after Abdelghany (2003).
M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56 43
sampled for analysis. Three sections are located in the United ArabEmirates (Jabal Qarn El Barr, Jabal Thanays and western side of Ja-bal Buhays) and one lies in the Sultanate of Oman (Jabal El Raw-dah) (Fig. 1). The techniques proposed by Bramlette and Sullivan(1961) and Hay (1964, 1970) were used for preparing smear slides.The slides were examined using a Carl Zeiss Photomicroscope 3 at1250� magnification in both plane polarized light and crosspolarized light. Selected calcareous nannofossils are documentedin Tables 1–4. Some of the most significant nannofossil taxa arepresented in photomicrograph plates (Figs. 8 and 9).
3. Stratigraphic background
The post-obduction neoautochthonous Upper Cretaceous-Eocenesedimentary succession unconformably overlies Late Cretaceous ageSemail Ophiolite. The first marine transgression deposited fluvialto shallow marine Qahlah Formation over the eroded nappes ofthe Semail Ophiolite (Glennie et al., 1974). This was followed bydeposition of shallow-water limestones (Simsima Formation),which are exposed at Jabals Qarn El Barr, El Faiyah Range Mountainsand El Rawdah (Fig. 1). Further to the north, at Jabal Qarn El Barr, theSimsima Formation consists of deep marine pelagic sediments, indi-cated by planktonic foraminifera and calcareous nannofossil(Abdelghany, 2003). The Simsima Formation is unconformablyoverlain by the Muthaymimah Formation in the study area. Thestratigraphic units mentioned above have been subdivided in
several recent studies (Abdelghany, 2003, 2006; Abdelghany andAbu Saima, 2012; Abd-Allah et al., 2013). These subdivisions arebased on their lithostratigraphic characteristics established in thefield and planktonic as well as benthic larger foraminifera biostrati-graphic zonations. The formations of the study area will be describedin detail below as follows.
3.1. Qahlah Formation
The Qahlah Formation was first recorded as a formal rock unitby Glennie et al. (1974). It unconformably overlies the SemailOphiolite and is unconformably overlain by the Simsima Forma-tion. It consists of a thick conglomerate bed containing clasts ofvarious rock types, ranging in size from granules to boulders of var-iable roundness, suggesting diverse source areas. It is absent in theJabal Qarn El Barr section. In the other sections studied (Jabals:Thanays, Buhays and El Rawdah), the Qahlah Formation is non-fossiliferous, while at Jabal Huwayyah (Oman) it is rich in rudists,corals, oysters and larger foraminifera, the age of the QahlahFormation is Late Campanian to Maastrichtian (Abdelghany, 2006).
3.2. Simsima Formation
The Simsima Formation was first described by Glennie et al.(1974) which shares unconformable contacts with both theunderlying Qahlah Formation and the overlying Muthaymimah
Fig. 2. Lithostratigraphic section of Jabal Qarn El Barr.
44 M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56
Formation. The Simsima Formation at Jabal Qarn El Barr north ofthe study area consists of chalky limestone with chert nodules atits base, and marl topped by a calcareous siltstone rich in calcare-ous nannofossils, planktonic and benthic foraminifera. In the othersections (Jabals: Thanays, Buhays and El Rawdah), it consists of ayellowish white, algal, orbitoidal limestone rich in macrofossils(e.g. rudists, corals, gastropods, pelecypods and echinoids), fol-lowed by a nodular, bioturbated orbitoidal dolomitic limestone.
Abdelghany (2003) identified a late Campanian–Maastrichtianage for the Simsima Formation based on planktonic and larger ben-thic foraminifera.
3.3. Muthaymimah Formation
This formation was originally described by Nolan et al. (1990)from the northwestern side of Sayh Muthaymimah, southeast of
Fig. 3. Lithostratigraphic section of Jabal Thanays, El Faiyah Range Mountains.
M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56 45
Buraymi, Oman. It unconformably overlies the Simsima Formation.It consists of shale, marl and argillaceous limestone with conglom-erate interbeds that include clasts of Simsima limestone, reworkedrudists and coral fragments, rare ophiolites and Hawasina chert. AtEl Faiyah Range Mountains and Jabal El Rawdah, the Muthaymi-mah Formation unconformably overlies the Simsima Formation.The unconformable surface between the Muthaymimah Formationand the Simsima Formation is represented by a 0.5–2.0 m thick bedof well rounded conglomerate at Jabal Thanays and the westernside of Jabal Buhays, El Faiyah Range Mountains and Jabal El Raw-dah. Abdelghany and Abu Saima (2012) set the Muthaymimah For-mation age from Early Paleocene to Early Eocene, based on theidentified benthic and planktonic foraminifera from Jabals QarnEl Barr, El Faiyah, El Rawdah, Malaqet and Mundassah (Fig. 6).
3.4. Dammam Formation
This formation consists of buff to grey weathered medium-grained fossiliferous, nummulite-rich limestone interbedded withyellow marl of Middle–Upper Eocene age at its type locality. It isunconformably overlies the Muthaymimah Formation in the studyarea. It begins with siltstone, highly calcareous with iron bands andveinlets, followed by limestone, chalky, highly fossiliferous withNummulites sp. of Middle Eocene (Lutetian) age (Fig. 2).
4.1. Calcareous nannofossil biostratigraphy
In the study area, nannofossil assemblages are diverse and mod-erately to well preserved. Stratigraphically important nannofossiltaxa are illustrated in Tables 1–4. Fig. 7 shows the biostratigraphiccorrelation between the four studied sections. Abbreviations usedin the investigated sections are: first occurrence and lastoccurrence.
4.1.1. Late Cretaceous biostratigraphyFor the Late Cretaceous, only the uppermost Maastrichtian cal-
careous nannofossil biozone (Micula murus) was investigated in thestudied sections. It is described below.
18.104.22.168. Micula murus Zone. The Micula murus Zone is defined byBukry and Bramlette (1970); amended Perch-Nielsen (1981) asthe interval from the first occurrence M. murus to the last occur-rence of all Cretaceous species (the K/P boundary). M. murus is arare to frequent component of Maastrichtian calcareous nannofos-sil assemblages in the study sections.
Occurrence: Jabal Qarn El Barr, Jabal Thanays and western sideof Jabal Buhays.
Remarks and common taxa: This zone was amended by Jiangand Gartner (1986) and Self-Trail et al. (2001) and is identified asdiachronous. It is defined as the interval between the first appear-ance of M. murus and the bloom of Thoracosphaera operculata,though the upper boundary was previously defined by the firstoccurrence of Micula prinsii (Perch-Nielsen, 1981).
The Micula murus Zone is described from many localities aroundthe world (Romein, 1979) as well as in Egypt (Faris, 1988, 1992;Tantawy, 2003). The species M. murus is considered a lateMaastrichtian nannofossil marker species and likely restricted tolow latitudes (Worsely and Martini, 1970; Perch-Nielsen, 1985;Moshkovitz and Habib, 1993).
4.1.2. Paleocene and Eocene biostratigraphy22.214.171.124. Chasmolithus danicus Zone (NP3). This biozone is defined asthe interval from the first occurrence of Chasmolithus danicus to thefirst occurrence of Ellipsolithus macellus. In the studied sections, thetop of the zone is indeterminable owing to the absence of Ellipsol-ithus macellus.
Age: DanianOccurrence: Western side of Jabal Buhays, El Faiyah Range
Mountains.Remarks and common taxa: This is the oldest recognized Early
Paleocene nannofossil zone in the study area. The boundary be-tween the Maastrichtian and the Paleocene is drawn at the extinc-tion level of calcareous nannofossils of the Late Cretaceous. Thisextinction event was first documented by Bramlette and Martini(1964). In the studied sections, the abundance of Cretaceous taxarapid decrease in the Lower Paleocene sediments and are consid-ered reworking of Maastrichtian taxa into the Paleocene section.
The nannofossil marker species Micula prinsii (upper NC23 ofRoth, 1978) was not identified from all the studied sections,
Fig. 4. Lithostratigraphic section of the western side of Jabal Buhays, El Faiyah Range Mountains.
46 M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56
indicating the terminal Cretaceous may be missing in the studiedsections.
Additionally, the Markalius inversus (NP1) and Cruciplacolithustenuis (NP2) zones are also missing and may indicate that theearliest Paleocene is absent.
At the Jabal Qarn El Barr section, the nannofossil zones NP1 toNP4 are absent, indicating the entire Danian and basal Selandianare missing in such section.
126.96.36.199. Fasciculithus tympaniformis Zone (NP5). This is defined asthe interval from the first occurrence of Fasciculathus tympanifor-mis to the first occurrence of Heliolithus kleinpellii.
Age: SelandianOccurrence: Jabal Qarn El Barr section.Remarks and common taxa: In the Qarn El Barr section this
zone contains a similar assemblage to Zone NP3, but it distin-guished by the presence of Fasciculithus tympaniformis, Bomolithuselegans, F. billii, F. aubertae, F. clinatus, F. bobii and Toweius eminens.
188.8.131.52. Heliolithus kleinpellii Zone (NP6). This zone comprises thebiostratigraphic interval from the first occurrence of Heliolithuskleinpellii to the first occurrence of Discoaster mohleri.
Age: SelandianOccurrence: It is only identified at Jabal El Rawdah section.
Fig. 5. Lithostratigraphic section of Jabal El Rawdah.
M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56 47
Remarks and common species: This zone includes the samenannofossil species as the F. tympaniformis, in addition to Helioli-thus kleinpelli, H. cantabriae, Bomolithus conicus, B. elegans, F. bobii,Discoaster bramlettei and Sphenolithus anarrhopus.
184.108.40.206. Discoaster mohleri Zone/Heliolithus riedelii Zone (Zone NP7/NP8). This occupies the interval from the first occurrence ofDiscoaster mohleri to the first occurrence of Discoaster multiradiatus.
Age: ThanetianOccurrence: Jabals: Qarn El Barr and El Rawdah sections.Remarks and common species: Helicolithus riedelii: is missing
in the present study. We combine NP7 and NP8 into a NP7/8 inter-val which includes the interval from the first occurrence of D. moh-leri to the first occurrence of D. multiradiatus, as proposed byRomein (1979).
Table 1Stratigraphic ranges and relative abundance of calcareous nannofossils of Jabal Qarn El Barr.
Table 2Stratigraphic ranges and relative abundance of calcareous nannofossils of Jabal Thanays, El Faiyah Range Mountains.
Age Late CretaceousLate Maastrichtian
Sample no. 1 2 3 4
Abundance VR VR R VRPreservation M M M MBiozones Micula murus
Watznaueria barnesae R R R RArkhangelskiella cymbiformis F F F FMicula murusa F F R R
Abundance: F = Frequent, R = Rare, VR = Very rare. Preservation: M = Moderate.a Marker species.
48 M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56
Zone NP7/8 includes the same nannofossil assemblages,as recorded in the above Zone NP6, with the addition ofD. mohleri.
220.127.116.11. Discoaster multiradiatus Zone (NP9). Zone NP9 includes theinterval from the first occurrence of D. multiradiatus to the firstoccurrence of Tribrachiatus bramlettei.
Table 3Stratigraphic ranges and relative abundance of calcareous nannofossils, western side of Jabal Buhays, El Faiyah Range Mountains.
Age Late Cretaceous PaleoceneLate Maastrichtian Danian
Formation Simsima Muthaymimah
Sample no. 8 9 11 12 14 15 17 18 19 20 27 28 29 33 35 36 38Abundance R R F R VR VR VR F F F VR F F VR R VR VRPreservation P P M M M M M M M M M M M M M M MBiozones Micula murus CC25 b NP3
Watznaueria barnesae R R VR VR VR R VR F F F VR F F VR VR VR RMicula murusa R R VR R VR VR RLucianorhabdus cayeuxii VR VR VR R VR R VR VR VR R VR VR VR VRPrediscosphaera cretacea VR VR VR VR VR VRMicula concava VR VR VR VR VR VR R RLithraphidites carniolensis VR VR VR VRThoracosphaera operculata VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR F F VRArkhangelskiella cymbiformis VR VR VR VR R VR VR VRPlacozygus sigmoides VR VR VRStradneria crenulata VRMicula decussata VR VR R VR R R VR R VRChiastozygous amphipons VRZygodiscus spiralis VR VRLithraphidites quadratusa VRCribrosphaerella ehrenbergii VRZeugrhabdotus pseudonthophorus VREricsonia cava R RCruciplacolithus tenuisa VR VRChiasmolithus danicusa VR VRCruciplacolithus primus VR
Abundance: F = Frequent, R = Rare, VR = Very Rare. Preservation: M = Moderate, P = Poor.a Marker species.
M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56 49
Age: Thanetian-Early EoceneOccurrence: Jabals: Qarn El Barr and El Rawdah sections.Remarks and common species: Most Fasciculithus species,
such as F. involutus, F. bitectus, F. schaubii, F. alanii, F. thomasii,F. lillianae, F. tanii and F. aubertae first occur in this zone in the stud-ied sections. Other species which first appear include Discoastermahmoudii, D. binodosus, D. falcatus, D. lenticularis, D. araneus, D.okadai and Zygrhablithus bijugatus.
Aubry et al. (1999) subdivided the D. multiradiatus Zone (NP9)into two Subzones (NP9a and NP9b) based on FOs of Rhamboasterspp. and/or D. araneus. This level was adopted by the InternationalSubcommission on Paleogene Stratigraphy (ISSP) as one of themost important events characterizing the Paleocene/Eocene (P/E)boundary.
The location of the P/E boundary is indeterminable at the QarnEl Barr section, owing to the complete absence of Rhamboaster taxaand Discoaster araneus (NP9b).
The taxonomy of most taxa are generally well established, ex-cept for the much debated genera Rhomboaster and Tribrachiatus(Perch-Nielsen, 1985; Bybell and Self-Trail, 1997; Aubry et al.,2000; Raffi et al., 2005), though some investigations have groupedthe two under the genus Rhomboaster into Tribrachiatus. Rhomboas-ter transforms into Tribrachiatus by flattening of the nannolith. Wehave retained Rhomboaster and Tribrachiatus seperately, as sup-ported by Angori and Monechi (1996), Aubry (1996), Raffi et al.(2005) and Jiang and Wise (2006).
18.104.22.168. Tribrachiatus contortus Zone (NP10). This zone spans theinterval from the first occurrence of Tribrachiatus bramlettei tothe last occurrence of T. contortus (Martini, 1971). Due to theabsence of T. contortus in the study area, the first occurrence ofT. orthostylus to define the top of the Zone NP10 is used.
Age: Early EoceneOccurrence: Jabal El Rawdah section.Remarks and common species: According to Aubry (1996)
Zone NP10 can be subdivided into four Subzones (NP 10a-d) based
on the sequential appearances of T. bramlettei, T. digitalis and T.contortus. This subzonal scheme has been successfully applied indeep sea sites and neritic sections from the Tethyan (Faris andStrougo, 1998; Bybell and Self-Trail, 1997; Tantawy, 2006). Atthe Jabal El Rawdah section, due to the absence of T. digitalis andT. contortus, only subzone 10a is present, and the other subzonessimply cannot be defined because of the absence of Tribrachiatusspecies. According to Raffi et al. (2005) both rarity and taxonomicissues of these two species (T. digitalis and T. contortus) hinder theuse of this subzonation.
22.214.171.124. Discoaster binodosus Zone (NP11). This zone is the biostrati-graphic interval from the last occurrence of Tribrachiatus contortusto the first occurrence of Discoaster lodoensis.
Age: Early EoceneOccurrence: Jabal Qarn El Barr section.Remarks and common species: The first occurrence of Tribrac-
hiatus orthostylus commonly appears in the upper most part ofZone NP10. Perch-Nielsen (1985) suggests that in the absence ofT. contortus, the first occurrence of T. orthostylus can be used toapproximate the base of zone NP11. The same situation exists inthe investigated section (Qarn El Barr), where the first occurrenceof T. orthostylus was used to place the NP10/NP11 zonal boundary.
Additional species that first appear in Zone NP11 include Sphen-olithus radians, Ericsonia formosa and Chiasmolithus solitus.
Within Zone NP11 there is a small hiatus represented by thepresence of a conglomerate bed at sample 54. This hiatus couldnot be dated due to the stratigraphic resolution of the nannofossils.
The complete absence of nannofossil Zones NP12 to NP13 (ab-sence of Discoaster lodoensis and Toweius crassus, respectively,which are the marker taxa, as in Fig. 7) and probably the lower partof Zone NP14, suggest the presence of a hiatus with (Approx.4.0 My) at the Early/Middle Eocene boundary at Jabal Qarn El Barrand through the whole emirates (Jabals: Hafit, Malaqet,Mundassah and El Faiyah).
Table 4Stratigraphic ranges and relative abundance of calcareous nannofossils of Jabal El Rawadah.
Age Paleocene Early Eocene
Selandian Thanetian Thanetian YpresianFormation MuthaymimahSample no. 6 7 9 11 12 13 15 17 20 22 23 24 25 26 31 33 34 36 37 39 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 49 51 54 55 58 62 63 64 66 67 68 70 73 74Abundance VR VR C F A F A F F A A C F VR F F C A C F C A A A F F C R A C C C C A A A A C R F CPreservation M M M M M M G M M G G M M P G M M G M M M M G G M M M M G P P M P M M G G G M M MBiozones (NP) NP6 NP7/8 NP9 NP10
a b a
Heliolithus kleinpelliia VR VR R R R R RCoccolithus pelagicus VR VR F R F F R VR R R R R VR VR F R VR F R R F R R R R R R VR R R R R R R R R R R RSphenolithus primus VR VR F F R C F VR F F F F VR VR R R VR R R R R VR R R R R F VR R R R R R VR VRThoracosphaera operculata VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR VR R R R R VRHeliolithus cantabriae VR RDiscoaster bramlettei VR VREricsonia cava VR F R R VR R R VR R R R F VR R VR F R R R R R R R R F R VR R R R REricsonia subpertusa R R VR VR R R R R VR F R VR R R R F R R R R F VR F R R R VR VRChiasmolithus danicusa R F R R VRFasciculithus tympaniformisa VR R VR R R R R VR VR R R R R FChiasmolithus bidens VRBomolithus elegans VR R VRBomolithus conicus VR RFasciculithus bobii VR VR VR VRChiasmolithus consuetus R VR R VRCruciplacolithus tenuisa VRMarkalius inversus VRDiscoaster mohleria VR VR VR RDiscoaster multiradiatusa VR F R VR F R VR R VR F R VR VR F F F R VR R F F F RBraarudosphaera bigelowii VR VR VRDiscoaster binodosus VR R VR VR VR VR VR VR VRDiscoaster falcatus VR VREllipsolithus macellusa VR R VR VR VRZygrhablithus bijugatus VR R R VR VR R R VR VR R R VR VRNeochiastozygus junctus VR VR R VR F R VR R R VR VRFasciculithus clinatus VR VR VR VR VR R RTribrachiatus bramletteia VR F R VR VRFasciculithus involutus VR VRDiscoaster mahmoudiia R VRDiscoaster araneusa F RZygodiscuss plectopons VRPlacozygus sigmoides VR VR RFasciculithus billii RFasciculithus hayii RFasciculithus ulii RZygodiscus bramlettei
VRChiasmolithus californicus VR VR VR VRDiscoaster barbadiensis VR VR R R VR VRCampylosphaera dela VRChiasmolithus eograndis VRDiscoaster lenticularis R R VRRhomboaster bitrifidaa VR
Abundance: F = Frequent, R = Rare, VR = Very Rare. Preservation: M = Moderate, P = Poor.a Marker species.
Fig. 6. Stratigraphic ranges and biocorrelation between studied sections.
M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56 51
126.96.36.199. Discoaster sublodoensis Zone (NP14). This zone is defined asthe interval from the first occurrence of Discoaster sublodoensis tothe first occurrence of Nannotetrina fulgens which be occur earlierthat typically reported, and may also be heavily affected byovergrowth (Agnini et al., 2006; Mita, 2001; Wei and Wise, 1990;Monech and Thierstein, 1985).
Age: Middle EoceneOccurrence: Jabal Qarn El Barr section.Remarks and common species: In addition to the marker
taxon: Discoaster sublodoensis, Discoaster saipanensis is recorded.Aubry (1986) noted that the first appearance of Discoastersaipanensis in the upper Zone NP14. In the Thamad area, east ofcentral Sinai, Egypt, Discoaster saipanensis has been recorded fromthe Zone NP14 (Faris and Abu Shama, 2007). D. tani nodifer,D. strictus, and D. wemmelensis all have their first occurrence inzone NP14.
188.8.131.52. Nannotetrina fulgens Zone (NP15). This zone comprises thebiostratigraphic interval from the first occurrence of Nannotetrinafulgens to the first occurrence of Reticulofenestra umbilica.
Age: Middle EoceneOccurrence: Jabal Qarn El Barr section.
4.2. Stage Boundaries
4.2.1. Cretaceous/Paleocene (K/P) BoundaryThe K/P boundary stratotype is located at El Kef, Tunisia. This
boundary is defined as the base of the boundary clay, which in-cludes the millimeter-scale red clay layer containing an Ir anomalyand microspherules. The base of the boundary clay is characterizedby the abrupt decrease in abundance of the planktonic foraminif-era (Smit, 1982) and calcareous nannofossils (Pospichal, 1994). Inthe studied sections (Jabal Qarn El Barr and western side of JabalBuhays) a stratigraphic hiatus at the K/P boundary is observed,and includes the uppermost Maastrichtian Micula prinsii Zoneand the Early Paleocene Markalius inversus and Cruciuplacolithustenuis Zones (Approx. 1.4 My) at the western side of Jabal Buhayswhile (Approx. 4.4 My) at Jabal Qarn El Barr.
4.2.2. Selandian/Thanethian (S/Th) BoundaryBased on calcareous nannofossil bioevents the Selandian/Tha-
netian is tentatively placed at the uppermost part of Zone NP6(Berggren et al., 1995). In the current study, the first appearanceof D. mohleri (marker taxon of Zone NP7/8) is used to delineatethe S/Th boundary at Jabals Qarn El Barr and El Rawdah sections.
Fig. 7. Comparison between the planktonic (P) and calcareous nannofossils (NP) biozones according to different authors after Gradstein et al. (2004).
52 M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56
4.2.3. The Paleocene/Eocene (P/E) BoundaryThe P/E boundary has traditionally been correlated on the basis
of the NP9/NP10 zonal boundary, which is defined by the firstoccurrence of Tribrachiatus bramlettei (Martini, 1971). The firstoccurrence of Discoaster diastypus was used by Okada and Bukry(1980) to recognize this boundary. Romein (1979) has shownhow T. bramlettei evolved into T. contortus which itself evolved intoT. orthostylus in the later part of Biochron NP10. Tribrachiatuscontortus seems to be less restricted in occurrence than
T. bramlettei. In the absence of T. bramlettei, the last occurrenceof Fasciculithus tympaniformis (or Fasciculithus spp.) is used toaproximate the NP9/NP10 zonal boundary (Shackleton et al.,1984).
The P/E boundary GSSP is located between Subzones NP9a andNP9b in the Dababiya Quarry section (Egypt), near Luxor in the NileValley (Dupuis et al., 2003). Excursion taxa were used to describethe short-lived discoasters, D. anartios and D. araneus that evolvedat the P/E boundary (e.g. Bybell and Self-Trail, 1995; Kelly et al.,
Fig. 8. (A and B) Arkhangelskiella cymbiformis Vekshina (1959), (A) sample#4, Jabal Thanays; (B) sample#28, western side of Jabal Buhays. (C) Chiastozygus amphipons(Bramlette and Martini, 1964) Gartner (1968), sample#11, western side of Jabal Buhays. (D) Micula decussata Vekshina (1959), sample#4, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (E) Eiffellithusturriseiffellii (Deflandre in Deflandre and Fert, 1954) Reinhardt (1965), sample#30, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (F) Zygodiscus spiralis Bramlette and Martini (1964), sample#19, westernside of Jabal Buhays. (G) Microrhabdulus decoratus Deflandre (1959), sample#13, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (H) Micula murus (Martini, 1961) Bukry (1973), sample#28, western side ofJabal Buhays. (I) Cribrosphaerella ehrenbergii (Arkhangelsky, 1912) Deflandre in Piveteau (1952), sample#5, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (J) Zeugrhabdotus pseudanthophorus (Bramletteand Martini, 1964) Perch-Nielsen (1984a), sample#12, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (K) Stradneria crenulata (Bramlette and Martini, 1964) Noel (1970), sample#13, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (L)Lithraphidites carniolensis Deflandre (1963), sample#14, western side of Jabal Buhays. (M) Lithraphidites quadratus Bramlette and Martini (1964), sample#12, western side ofJabal Buhays. (N–O) Braarudosphaera bigelowii (Gran and Braarud, 1935) Deflandre (1947), sample#56, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (P) Micrantholithus vesper Deflandre (1959),sample#80, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (Q) Zygodiscus plectopons Bramlette and Sullivan (1961), sample#44, Jabal El Rawdah. (R) Reticulofenestra dictyoda (Deflandre in Deflandre andPert, 1954) Stradner in Stradner and Edwards (1968), sample#62, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (S) Neochiastozygus junctus (Bramlette and Sullivan, 1961) Perch-Nielsen (1971), sample#46, Jabal El Rawdah. (T) Sphenolithus moriformis (Bronnimann and Stradner, 1960) Bramlette and Wilcoxon (1967), sample#75, Jabal Qarn El Barr.
M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56 53
1996; Agnini et al., 2004, 2007). Rhomboaster was later added dueto its close association with D. araneus (Aubry, 2001; Kahn andAubry, 2004). The most prominent feature of the discoasterexcursion taxa is the irregular arrangement and length of theirrays, which is considered here as a malformation compared withother normally-developed, symmetrical discoasters.
The major changes in nannofloral composition, observed on theglobal scale at the P/E boundary are the following: (A) the decreasein abundance and/or diversification of the genus Fasciculithus, and(B) the appearance of Rhomboaster spp. and D. araneus – D. anartios(the ‘‘RD assemblage’’ of Aubry et al. (2007)). The stratigraphic ex-tent of the RD in the Dababiya section (Egypt), site of the GlobalStandard Stratotype-Section and Point (GSSP) for the Paleocene/Eocene boundary (Aubry, 2001), is restricted to the observed CIE(Dupuis et al., 2003). Discoaster anartios and D. araneus are re-corded together in sections from the Tethyan area (Agnini et al.,2007), and Western Atlantic shelf (Bybell and Self-Trail, 1995),indicating a regional control on the distribution of these taxa.
Rhomboaster and Tribrachiatus have been observed togetherwith asymmetrical discoasterid species such as Discoaster araneus
and Discoaster anartios (e.g. Bybell and Self-Trail, 1995; Monechiet al., 2000; Raffi et al., 2005, 2009; Tremolada and Bralower,2004) from various regions. The Discoaster–Rhomboaster spp.excursion nannoflora shows a marked provincialism restricted toan equatorial tropical belt including the Atlantic Ocean, the Tethys,the westernmost Indian Ocean and the equatorial Pacific (Kahn andAubry, 2004; Gibbs et al., 2006).
In the studied sections, at Jabal El Rawdah, the P/E boundary islocated between Subzones NP9a and NP9b at the level of the firstoccurrences of Discoaster araneus, and the Subzone NP9b is con-formably overlain by Subzone NP10a. At Jabal Qarn El Barr sectionthe Subzone NP9b, the Zone NP10 and probably the basal part ofZone NP11 are missed, suggesting a small hiatus at the beginningof the Early Eocene time (Approx. 2.0 My).
4.2.4. The Early/Middle Eocene BoundaryThe location of Lower Eocene/Middle Eocene boundary
(Ypresian/Lutetian) is correlated with the NP13/NP14 zonal bound-ary (Martini, 1971; Hazel et al., 1984; Perch-Nielsen 1985; Martiniand Muller, 1986); however, according to some authors (Aubry,
Fig. 9. (A and B) Heliolithus kleinpellii Sullivan (1964), sample#12, Jabal El Rawdah. (C) Ellipsolithus macellus (Bramlette and Sullivan, 1961) Sullivan (1964), sample#22, JabalEl Rawdah. (D) Fasciculithus involutus Bramlette and Sullivan (1961), sample#45, Jabal El Rawdah. (E) Fasciculithus tympaniformis Hay and Mohler in Hay et al. (1967),sample#34, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (F) Chiasmolithus danicus (Brotzen, 1959) Hay and Mohler (1967), sample#36, western side of Jabal Buhays. (G) Ericsonia subpertusa Hay andMohler (1967), sample#47, Jabal El Rawdah. (H) Pontosphaera plana (Bramlette and Sullivan, 1961) Haq (1971), sample#79, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (I) Fasciculithus alanii Perch-Nielsen (1971b), sample#45, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (J) Sphenolithus radians Deflandre in Grasse (1952), sample#64, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (K) Chiasmolithus solitus (Bramlette andSullivan, 1961) Locker (1968), sample #55, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (L) Zygrhablithus bijugatus (Deflandre in Deflandre and Fert, 1954) Deflandre (1959), sample#43, Jabal ElRawdah. (M) Discoaster diaslypus Bramlette and Sullivan (1961), sample#58, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (N) Discoaster saipanensis Bramlette and Riedel (1954), sample#63, Jabal QarnEl Barr. (O) Discoaster multiradiatus Bramlette and Reidel (1954), sample#42, Jabal El Rawdah. (P) Discoaster barbadiensis Tan (1927), sample#66, Jabal El Rawdah. (Q)Nannotetrina fulgens (Stradner, 1960) Achuthan and Stradner (1969), sample#63, Jabal Qarn El Barr. (R) Tribrachiatus orthostylus Sharnrai (1963), sample#48, Jabal Qarn ElBarr. (S) Tribrachiatus bramlettei (Bronnimann and Stradner, 1960) Proto Decima el al. (1975), sample#44, Jabal El Rawdah. (T) Discoaster araneus Bukry (1971b), sample#44,Jabal El Rawdah.
54 M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56
1983; Bolli et al., 1985; Berggren et al., 1985; Cavelier and Pomerol1986), the base of the Middle Eocene (Lutetian) is slightly younger(passing within the basal portion of NP14). Calcareous nannofossilsstudied by Steurbaut (1988) and Steurbaut and Nolf (1986) in theParis and Belgian Basins were the basis for placing this boundary inthe lower part of the NP14.
In Egypt, Strougo and Faris (1993) suggested that the Lower/Middle Eocene boundary, if present at Wadi El Dakhl section(Southern Galala Plateau), should lie in the terminal part of thesection, at least as high as the NP13/NP14 zonal boundary. In thestudy area at Jabal Qarn El Barr, a large hiatus can be detected atthe Early/Middle Eocene boundary at Jabal Qarn El Barr sectionowing to the complete absence of Zones NP12 and NP13 and
probably the base of NP14. This boundary can be drawn at theMuthaymimah/Dammam formational contact through the wholeemirates.
5. Summary and conclusions
The results obtained in the present investigation can be sum-marized as follows: A stratigraphic gap including the latest Maas-trichtian (Micula prinsii Zone, CC26b) and the earliest PaleoceneZones Markalius inversus (NP1) and Cruciplacolithus tenuis (NP2)at the western side of Jabal Buhays section was detected. The com-plete absence of Danian sediments (Zones NP1–4) in the Jabal QarnEl Barr section indicates an unconformable contact between the
M. Faris et al. / Journal of African Earth Sciences 93 (2014) 42–56 55
Simsima and Muthaymimah Formations. The nannofossil ZonesNP5 and NP6 were identified from the Selandian sediments. Thebase of nannofossil Zone NP7/8 (FO of Discoaster mohleri) at JabalEl Rawdah section was used to delineate the Selandian/Thanetianboundary, while at Jabal Qarn El Barr section this boundary ismarked by a small hiatus (absence of Zone NP6). At the Jabal ElRawdah section a more complete Paleocene/Eocene transition isdetected, characterized by the first occurrences of Discoaster aran-eus and D. binodosus. A minor hiatus is suggested at this boundaryin the Jabal Qarn El Barr section, indicated by the absence of Subz-one NP9b, as well as Zone NP10. A major hiatus at the Early/MiddleEocene boundary at Jabal Qarn El Barr section (absence of ZonesNP12–13 and base of NP14) was detected. This boundary is charac-terized by a change in lithology from marl (Early Eocene Muth-aymimah Formation) to limestone (Middle Eocene DammamFormation).
The authors wish to thank UAE University for providing the nec-essary facilities to complete this work. The penetrating criticalcomments by the respected reviewers, Prof. Mohamed Boukharyand Dr. Abdelrahman Fowler, have greatly improved the manu-script and are much appreciated. We thank Mr. Hamdi Kandil,Geology Department, UAE University for his help in enhancementof the figures and plates of this paper.
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