, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 381–409 | Cite as

Palaeoenvironmental reconstruction based on non-geniculate coralline red algal assemblages in Miocene limestone of central Crete

  • K. F. Kroeger
  • M. Reuter
  • T. C. Brachert
Original Article


Neogene coastal sediments of the Mediterranean provide an excellent laboratory for a quantitative study of palaeoenvironmental parameters and their response to climate change. In order to examine change in environmental parameters during deposition of Tortonian limestone of southern central Crete, we use integrated field and biofacies analysis together with a detailed study of foraminfera and non-geniculate red algae. Patterns in the relative abundance of non-geniculate coralline red algae are interpreted by comparison with data from modern non-geniculate coralline red algae and with additional information from the studied sediments. Based on these integrated datasets, four red algal associations are identified: a Lithophyllum-dominated association restricted to the upper photic zone in warm-temperate environments, a Lithothamnion-dominated association found in the lower photic zone in warm-temperate environments, a Spongites-dominated association typical for shallow warm-temperate to tropical environments and an association with dominant Mesophyllum which is characteristic for the lower photic zone in warm-temperate to tropical environments. We introduce coralline red algal indices in order to quantify changes in environmental parameters. We recognise four warm intervals within a succession of the Tortonian limestones in southern central Crete. During the most extensive interval, widespread coral carpets formed under prevalent oligotrophic conditions. Analysis of the stratigraphic architecture shows that warm intervals are related to sea-level highstands and therefore may reflect global climatic processes.


Red algae Neogene climate Tortonian Crete Sequence stratigraphy Coral carpets Eastern Mediterranean 



We are grateful to C. Fassoulas (Iraklion) for discussion in the field, J.C. Braga (Granada) for support in coralline red algal classification and K. Grimm (Mainz) for nannoplankton ages. The constructive review of W.E. Piller (Graz) led to considerable improvement of this manuscript. We thank the Graduiertenkolleg “Stoffbestand und Entwicklung von Kruste und Mantel” for funding of the PhD work and travel funding of K.F.K.. T.C.B. and M.R. acknowledge funding by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Br 1153/7).


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© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GeoForschungsZentrum PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Institut fuer ErdwissenschaftenKarl-Franzens-UniversitaetGrazAustria
  3. 3.Institut fuer GeowissenschaftenJohannes Gutenberg-UniversitaetMainzGermany

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