International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 102, Issue 2, pp 455–482 | Cite as

Lower Palaeozoic unconformities in an intracratonic platform setting: glacial erosion versus tectonics in the eastern Murzuq Basin (southern Libya)

  • Jean-François GhienneEmail author
  • Julien Moreau
  • Lionel Degermann
  • Jean-Loup Rubino
Original Paper


The stratigraphic record of the eastern Murzuq Basin has been importantly influenced by deformation resulting in angular and/or deeply erosional unconformities, though the overall context is intracratonic. Major transgressive events and the Ordovician glaciation are nevertheless documented, allowing the delineation of tectonic-, eustasy- or climate-driven unconformities. Lower Palaeozoic key events and related unconformities that characterize the North Gondwana platform have therefore a signature in the eastern Murzuq Basin. The basement/cover unconformity, also known as the infra-Tassilian surface, truncates all the deformed and metamorphosed Lower Cambrian and older rocks. Above is a ?Middle Cambrian to Lower Ordovician megasequence (Murizidié and Hasawnah Fms.), which is in turn truncated by an intra-Ordovician, angular unconformity. This megasequence is unconformably overlain by a Middle Ordovician (Hawaz Fm.) to Silurian (Tanzzuft and Akakus Fms) megasequence, which includes the Upper Ordovician glaciogenic unit (Mamuniyat Fm.), bounded at the base by a polygenic glacial erosion surface showing corrugated glacial lineations, tillites, and glaciotectonic structures. The Middle Ordovician to Silurian megasequence is finally truncated by a base-Devonian, angular unconformity overlain by fluvial sandstones. Regarding the possibility that those fluvial deposits may be as younger as Late Devonian in the eastern Murzuq Basin based on palaeoflora, the so-called Caledonian unconformity might be here a much younger (mid-Eifelian?) surface, and the occurrence of the Lower Devonian “Tadrart Fm.” is questioned. The Upper Ordovician glacial erosion surface, which is sometimes referred to as the Taconic unconformity, usually truncates Middle Ordovician strata in the Murzuq Basin but reaches significantly deeper stratigraphic levels in places that have been previously involved in the intra-Ordovician deformation event. In the Murizidié (southeastern Murzuq Basin), the infra-Tassilian surface, the intra-Ordovician unconformity, and the Upper Ordovician glacial erosion surface amalgamate together. Here, an estimate of the glacial erosion depth cannot be derived from the stratigraphic hiatus beneath the glacial incision, the main part of which relate to the intra-Ordovician tectonic event. The Upper Ordovician climate-related glacial erosion surface is not a valid unconformity for a sequence hierarchy framework of the Lower Palaeozoic, although it presents most of the physical attributes of tectonic-driven unconformities.


Sequence stratigraphy Erosional truncations Palaeohighs Dor el Gussa Murizidié 



The authors acknowledge Total-Libya’s constant support and all the facilities provided during the fieldwork. They are grateful to Robert Bussert and Sebastian Lüning and to an anonymous referee for their careful review of the manuscript. This work is a contribution to the IGCP Project 591 —“The Early to Middle Paleozoic Revolution”.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-François Ghienne
    • 1
    Email author
  • Julien Moreau
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lionel Degermann
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
  • Jean-Loup Rubino
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Physique du Globe de StrasbourgUMR 7516 CNRS-Université de Strasbourg (EOST)Strasbourg CedexFrance
  2. 2.Department of Geography and GeologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  3. 3.StavangerNorway
  4. 4.CSTJFPauFrance
  5. 5.cva-engineering, Immeuble Toki LanaBayonneFrance

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