Palaeoenvironmental studies in maltese mid-tertiary carbonates.
The stratigraphy of four Members within the Lower Coralline Limestone
Formation (Oligocene: Rupelian-Chattian) on Malta and Gozo is redescribed,
and three Beds are formally defined within the Attard Member. Correlation
between these Beds of foraminiferal-coral wackestone, algal rhodolite,
and mollusc-echinoid facies is effected by means of a horizon rich in the
siphonal tubes of the burrowing bivalve Kuphus cf. polythalamnia. The
tube mineralogy is shown to be calcite, rather than aragonite as in other
Pholadacea. Eight species of crustose coralline algae, and two of articulating
are described and illustrated. From field observations, detailed
petrology, fauna and algal flora, it is inferred that this Formation
represents a transgressive sequence of shallow-water, sub-tropical,
marine, platform carbonates grading from lagoonal muds in southern Malta
to platform edge sands in northern Gozo, overlain by typical foreslope
large benthonic foraminiferal wackestones, and terminated by a ubiquitous
hardground of Paleogene-Neogene boundary age.
The succeeding Globigerina Limestone (Miocene: Aquitanian-Langhian) is
redescribed; its three Members redefined; three Beds formally defined
within the Lower Member, two within the Middle, four within the Upper.
Computer-based isopachyte studies confirm that a positive feature in the
Malta-Gozo straits area influenced sedimentation pattern. Seventeen
trace fossils are described, and six ichnofacies recognised within the
Formation. From field observations, petrology, fauna, isopachytes and
trace fossils, this Formation is interpreted as a sequence of shelf-carbonates,
with deposition at 50-300m for the Lower (planktonic foraminiferal
wackestones) Member, deepening during deposition of the Middle
(coccolith lime mudstone) Member, with slight and intermittent shallowing
in the Upper Member.
A single phase of submarine diagenesis produced
A ubiquitous hardground terminates the Lower Member,and pre-dates a single period of neptunian dyke emplacement. A single,
late stage and minor period of subaerial diagenesis is associated with
post Miocene (? Messinian) uplift and erosion.
Ubiquitous phosphorite conglomerates, the clasts derived from a region to
the west-northwest of Gozo, initiate the Middle and Upper Members. Phosphate
occurs as dahl lite, precipitated as rims on clasts and hardgrounds,
and as francolite, a replacement of limestone. Analyses, principally by
X-ray fluorescence and Instrumental Neutron Activation, for major,trace,
and rare earth elements detail phosphorite geochemistry, reveal a
fractionation of low over high REE, and indicate initial phosphatisation
of limestone in a reducing environment (low Eu) prior to erosion and redeposition