Aptian carbonate platform development in the Southern Iberian Palaeomargin (Prebetic of Alicante, SE Spain)

Skelton, Peter; Castro, José Manuel and Ruiz-Ortiz, Pedro Alejandro (2019). Aptian carbonate platform development in the Southern Iberian Palaeomargin (Prebetic of Alicante, SE Spain). BSGF - Earth Sciences Bulletin, 190, article no. 3.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/bsgf/2019001


The Aptian stratigraphic record of the Alicante region consists of: a rudist and coral-rich carbonate platform of earliest Aptian age (Llopis Formation), with a discontinuous siliciclastic member at its top; followed by late Early, to Late Aptian hemipelagic marls and marlstones (Almadich Formation); and then by renewed carbonate platform development of Late Aptian to earliest Albian age (Seguilí Formation). In the Llopis Formation, SW-dipping, massive clinoform beds of bioclastic debris are succeeded by flat-lying platform-top beds. The latter show a cyclically regressive stacking of biofacies, with rudist-dominated floatstone in their lower parts passing upwards to finer-grained, more sparsely fossiliferous bed tops with burrow mottling. Caprinid rudists, with originally almost wholly aragonitic shells, dominate the external platform-top facies, while more internal facies contain a mix of monopleurid, polyconitid and requieniid rudists, all with relatively slightly thicker development of the calcitic outer shell layer, together with caprinids. Biostratigraphic and carbon-isotope data link the termination of the Llopis platform with the onset of OAE1a. The carbonate platform of the Seguilí Formation again contains tabular platform-top beds showing repeated cyclic regression, with dense rudist and/or chondrodont floatstones overlain by sparser floatstones with wackestone matrix and secondarily filled burrows. But caprinids are now absent, while requieniids and polyconitids, some of large size, as well as radiolitids, all with thickened calcitic outer shell layers, accompany the tubular monopleurid, Mathesia, together with a greater development of Chondrodonta biofacies. The same overall pattern of biotic turnover from the Early, to the Late Aptian is confirmed in other parts of Iberia and contiguous regions. Moreover, Iberian platforms of late Early Aptian age outside the present study area reveal a transitional phase with an increasing proportion of polyconitids in the outer platform-top to upper slope facies at the expense of caprinids. The siliciclastic influx at the top of the Llopis Formation implies a climatic shift from arid, to relatively more humid/pluvial conditions through the mid-Early Aptian, as seen in several other Iberian sections. This climatic change was probably forced by the intensified greenhouse conditions at the onset of OAE1a. By contrast with these Iberian platforms, caprinids continued to dominate the outer platform-top zones of some central to southern Tethyan platforms until the close of the Early Aptian. This broad palaeolatitudinal differentiation of rudist associations within the Tethyan belt implies a climatic influence, whether exerted through thermal modulation of seawater pH and/or aragonite saturation, variation in nutrient flux, or any combination of these.

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