Brandano et al. 2019

scientific article | Sediment Geol

The lower Rupelian cluster reefs of Majella platform, the shallow water record of Eocene to Oligocene transition

Brandano M, Tomassetti L, Cornacchia I


The Eocene-Oligocene Transition is a key interval in the evolution of the modern climate, representing the last greenhouse-icehouse transition faced by the Earth. Shallow-water carbonate systems hold essential information of the global changes related to the E-O Transition. In this work, we focus on the Majella Mountain carbonate ramp to identify the shallow-water sedimentary expression of the oceanographic and sea-level changes related to the E-O Transition, and to compare it with the deep-marine records and the coeval shallow-water successions. Field observations, coupled with the study of thin sections to identify textural characters, and of the larger benthic foraminiferal associations for biostratigraphic purposes, allowed reconstructing the depositional model and the stratigraphic distribution of the examined ramp. The lower Rupelian ramp outcropping in the Majella Mountain is characterized by seagrass meadows in the euphotic inner ramp. Corals developed in the middle ramp, building mounded cluster reefs in the mesophotic zone, below wave base, in high hydrodynamic conditions produced by rip-currents induced by storm events or by the breaker zone of internal-waves. The outer ramp consists of alternating bioturbated wackestone rich in planktonic foraminifera, bioclastic packstone and skeletal rudstone to floatstone. The depositional model of the Oligocene ramps is the result of the major changes that occurred during the greenhouse-icehouse transition. In the Majella platform, the E-O Transition corresponds to an unconformity developed on the Priabonian substrate, where the cluster reefs grew and expanded. The unconformity results from the sea level drop of tens of meters, recorded also in the outer ramp, related to the Oi-1 event. The cluster reefs started to develop when the Priabonian ramp was flooded and continued to grow during the following highstands, forming an extensive coral unit that prograded basinwards, interfingering with the outer ramp deposits.

Meta-data (pending validation)
Depth range
30- 100 m

Mesophotic “mentions”
9 x (total of 6047 words)

* Presents original data
* Focused on 'mesophotic' depth range


Algae (Macro, Turf and Crustose Coralline)
Other invertebrates
Overall benthic (groups)
Scleractinia (Hard Corals)
Protists (non-Symbiodiniaceae)

Italy - Ligurian-Tyrrhenian


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