, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 123-139

Paleocene reefs on the Maiella Platform Margin, Italy: An example of the effects of the cretaceous/tertiary boundary events on reefs and carbonate platforms

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Summary

Reef facies, reef types and their biotic associations in the Maiella platform margin (central Italy) provide qualitative evidence for a significant reef decline across the Cretaceous/Tertiary (K/T) boundary, and indicate two phases of reef recovery during the Paleocene. Rudists dominated the reef community until the latest Cretaceous. A significant sea-level fall around the time of the K/T boundary is documented by a truncation surface associated with emersion.

During sea-level highstands in the Danian to Early Thanetian and, more extensively, during the Late Thanetian, coral-algal patch-reefs grew along the platform margin and top. Already in the Danian to Early Thanetian, the reef communities were more diverse and the constructional types more evolved than previously known from this time. Differences between the Danian to Early Thanetian coral association, the Late Thanetian association, and Late Cretaceous coral faunas may have ecological or evolutionary causes.

Repeated emergence produced a complex diagenetic history in the Danian to Lower Thanetian limestones. All Paleocene reefs were displaced by gravitative redeposition. Coral-algal reefs are less important in the Early to mid Eocene, when alveolinid foraminifera dominated on the Maiella shelf. Reefs on the Maiella platform diversified and attained large sizes in the Late Eocene to Early Oligocene, as known from other Mediterranean platforms.

The external controls on the Late Cretaceous to Oligocene evolution and demise of reef communities that are most easily demonstrated with our data are sealevel fluctuations and climate change. We propose that the change in reef biota and reef types across the K/T boundary and during the Early Tertiary were important causes of the parallel changes in platform growth style.