Articles | Volume 18, issue 1
01 Jun 1999
 | 01 Jun 1999

Foraminiferal distribution and palaeoecological interpretation of the Eocene–Miocene carbonates at Al Jabal al Akhdar (northeast Libya)

Esam O. Abdulsamad and Roberto Barbieri

Abstract. In the coastal area of northeastern Cyrenaica (Libya), the excellent exposures of Cenozoic limestone sequences of Al Jabal al Akhdar average around 1000 m in thickness and allow detailed stratigraphic investigations to be undertaken. This study of the biostratigraphy and depositional environments has been augmented by an analysis of the microfacies and of matrix-free foraminiferal assemblages. The biotic contents of the microfacies provide a good tool for correlation with the Letter classification developed from the Indo-Pacific region. The palaeoecological significance of the biota has been evaluated by comparison with the ecological requirements of their present day counterparts. Limitations for the palaeoecological interpretations are mainly due to the inadequate relationships with existing ecological data sets and to some local bias in fossil recovery because of some unfavourable lithologies. In the investigated Eocene to Miocene shallow marine carbonate succession nine different microfacies and sub-microfacies were distinguished through depositional texture and biotic components. Wilson’s standard carbonate facies belts, integrated with present day foraminiferal distribution models, have been used for reference in microfacies analysis and description. Most of the microfossils present are foraminifera and a total of 150 taxa, including larger, small and planktonic foraminifera, have been recognized and their stratigraphic and palaeaeocological distribution reported. Physiographically, the rock sequences investigated are referred to a shelf–carbonate platform complex, in which the depositional environments range from open shelf to restricted platform conditions. The nature and distribution of the foraminiferal assemblages and related biota, in association with sedimentological evidence, indicate a generalized shallowing upward trend in which several bathymetric oscillations, especially in the Oligocene, are reported. These reflect the interplay between local tectonics and large-scale eustatic changes.