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Checconi et al., 2010

Re-deposited rhodoliths in the Middle Miocene hemipelagic deposits of Vitulano (Southern Apennines, Italy): Coralline assemblage characterization and related trace fossils

Checconi, A., Bassi, D., Carannante, G., Monaco, P.
AjakiriSedimentary Geology
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An integrated analysis of rhodolith assemblages and associated trace fossils (borings) found in hemipelagic Middle Miocene Orbulina marls (Vitulano area, Taburno–Camposauro area, Southern Apennines, Italy) has revealed that both the biodiversity of the constituent components and taphonomic signatures represent important aspects which allow a detailed palaeoecological and palaeoenvironmental interpretation.

On the basis of shape, inner arrangement, growth forms and taxonomic coralline algal composition, two rhodolith growth stages were distinguished: (1) nucleation and growth of the rhodoliths, and (2) a final growth stage before burial. Nucleation is characterized by melobesioids and subordinately mastophoroids, with rare sporolithaceans and lithophylloids. The rhodolith growth (main increase in size) is represented by abundant melobesioids and rare to common mastophoroids; very rare sporolithaceans are also present. The final growth stage is dominated by melobesioids with rare mastophoroids and very rare sporolithaceans. Each rhodolith growth stage is characterized by a distinct suite of inner arrangement and growth form successions.

Well diversified ichnocoenoeses (GastrochaenolitesTrypanitesMeandropolydora and/or CaulostrepsisEntobiaUniglobites, micro-borings) related to bivalves, sponges, polychaetes, barnacles, algae, fungi, and bacteria are distinguished in the inner/intermediate rhodolith growth stage, while mainly algal, fungal and bacterial micro-borings are present in the outer final growth stage.

Rhodolith growth stages and associated ichnocoenoeses indicate significant change in the depositional setting during the rhodolith growth. In the Vitulano area, the Middle Miocene rhodolith assemblages formed in a shallow-water open-shelf carbonate platform, were susceptible to exportation from their production area and then to sedimentation down to deeper-water hemipelagic settings, where the rhodoliths shortly kept growth and were finally buried. Such re-deposition of unlithified or only weakly lithified (i.e. rhodoliths and intraclasts) shallow-water carbonates into deeper-water settings was likely favoured by storm-generated offshore return currents rather than sediment gravity flows.

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