Barremian synrift sedimentation in the Oliete sub-basin (Iberian Basin, Spain): palaeogeographical evolution and distribution of vertebrate remains

M. Aurell, A. R. Soria, B. Bádenas, C. L. Liesa, J. I. Canudo, J. M. Gasca, M. Moreno-Azanza, E. Medrano-Aguado, A. Meléndez

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21 Citations (Scopus)


A review of the onset of the synrift sedimentation and synsedimentary extensional tectonics of the Oliete sub-basin (northwestern Maestrazgo basin, East Spain) is presented here based on new data acquired after extensive sedimentological, structural and palaeontological analysis of the Barremian Blesa Fm. The lower boundary of the Blesa Fm is a prominent basal synrift unconformity overlying Jurassic units. This formation has been divided into three genetic stratigraphic sequences bounded by sub-basin-wide unconformities. The lower Blesa sequence (LBS) is characterized by distal alluvial to palustrine marls/clays grading upward to palustrine–lacustrine limestones. The LBS is bounded on top by a planar to irregular transgressive, hardened ferruginous surface, locally encrusted by oysters. Above this discontinuity, the middle Blesa sequence consists of oyster-rich limestones and marls deposited in a shallow restricted bay, which grade to distal alluvial and palustrine–lacustrine marls/clays and limestones towards the marginal areas of the basin. The boundary between the middle and upper Blesa sequence (UBS) is a regressive surface outlined by the local presence of an erosive conglomeratic bed. The UBS generally starts with red clays deposited in distal alluvial fan environments, which grade upwards to palustrine and lacustrine carbonates and marls/clays. The local presence of heterolithic alternations of clay with fine-to-medium sandstone and of cross-bedded sandstones indicates the local occurrence of siliciclastic coastal environments in the UBS. The upper boundary of the Blesa Fm is marked by widespread transgression, giving rise to the bioclastic limestones of the Alacón Fm. In the present paper, the stratigraphic position and palaeoenvironmental context of the abundant vertebrate remains found across the defined sequences within the Blesa Formation is reviewed. The results obtained are relevant for a further understanding of the tectosedimentary evolution of the studied basin. Successive stages of evolution are distinguished, including the initial uplift, breakup and erosion of the earlier Jurassic carbonate platform that took place during the Tithonian–Hauterivian; the onset of synrift sedimentation during the early Barremian, which was highly controlled by extensional faulting and differential block subsidence; the homogenization of the basin subsidence accompanied by the incursion of marine waters (sourced from southeastern areas) during the middle part of the Barremian; and the significant fall in base level, of possible climatic origin and also involving significant siliciclastic input in the northern areas of the Oliete sub-basin around the middle part of the late Barremian.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-308
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Iberian Geology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Barremian
  • Extensional tectonics
  • Iberia
  • Transitional facies
  • Vertebrate fossils


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