Evolution of a Ladinian (Middle Triassic) intraplatform basin : stratigraphy, microfacies and palaeoecology of the Meride Limestone (Monte San Giorgio, Canton Ticino, Southern Switzerland)


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Evolution of a Ladinian (Middle Triassic) intraplatform basin : stratigraphy, microfacies and palaeoecology of the Meride Limestone (Monte San Giorgio, Canton Ticino, Southern Switzerland)
Stockar R.
Baumgartner P. O.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des géosciences et de l'environnement
Faculté des géosciences et de l'environnementUniversité de LausanneUNIL - SorgeAmphipôle - bureau 314CH-1015 LausanneSUISSE
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The Monte San Giorgio (Southern Alps, Ticino, Switzerland) is the most important locality in the world for vertebrates dating back to the Middle Triassic. For this reason it was registered in 2003 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the objectives of this doctoral thesis was to fill some of the cognitive gaps regarding the Ladinian succession, including in particular the San Giorgio Dolomite and the Meride Limestone. In order to achieve this, the entire succession, more than 600 metres thick, was measured and sampled. Biostratigraphic research based on new finds of fossil invertebrates and microfossils and on the palynological analysis of the entire section was integrated with single-zircon U-Pb dating of volcanic ash layers intercalated in the carbonate succession. This enabled a redefinition of the bio-chronostratigraphic and geochronologic framework of the succession, which encompasses a significantly shorter time interval than previously held. The Ladinian section extends from the E. curionii Ammonoid Zone (Early Fassanian) to the P. archelaus Ammonoid Zone (Early Longobardian). The age of the classic fossiliferous levels of the Meride Limestone, rich in organic matter and containing vertebrate fossils which are known all over the world, was defined in both biostratigraphic and geochronologic terms. The presumed stratigraphie significance of the pachypleurosaurid reptiles found in such levels is called into question by new finds. These fossiliferous horizons were found to correspond to the main volcanoclastic intervals of the Buchenstein Formation (Middle and Upper Pietra Verde). Thus, a correlation with the Bagolino Section (Italy) containing the GSSP for the base of the Ladinian was proposed. Bulk sedimentation rates in the studied succession average 200 m/Myr and therefore prove to be 20 times higher than those of the South-Alpine pelagic basins. These values express high carbonate productivity from the surrounding platforms on one hand, and on the other a marked subsidence of the basin. Only in the intervals consisting of laminated limestones did the sedimentation rates drop to average values of around 30 m/Myr. The distribution of organic and inorganic facies appears to be the consequence of relative variations in sea-level. The laminated and organic-matter- rich intervals of the Meride Limestone are linked to a relative sea-level drop which favoured dysoxic to anoxic bottom-water conditions, coupled with an increase in runoff, perhaps due to recurrent explosive volcanic activity. The transient development under dysoxic conditions of monospecific benthic meio-/macrofaunas was documented. Organic matter suggests a predominant origin due to benthic bacterial activity, as can be witnessed in alveolar structures typical of exopolymeric substances secreted by bacteria within microbial mats. A microbial contribution to the carbonate (peloidal) precipitation was documented. The protective effect exerted by these microbial mats is also indicated as the main taphonomic factor contributing to the excellent preservation of vertebrate fossils.
A radiolarian assemblage discovered in the lower part of the section (earliest Ladinian, E. curionii Zone) suggests the transient existence of open-marine but not deep-water connections with the tethyan pelagic basins. It shows marked similarities to the faunas typical of the late Anisian, suggesting therefore a low resolution power provided by radiolarian biostratigraphy in recognizing the Anisian/Ladinian boundary. The present thesis describes a new species of conifer (Elatocladus cassinae), a new species of insect (Dasyleptus triassicus) and seven new species of radiolarians (Eptingium danieli, Eptingium neriae, Parentactinosphaera eoladinica, Sepsagon ticinensis, Sepsagon? valporinae, Novamuria wirzi and Pessagnollum? hexaspinosum). In addition, following revision of the type material of already existent taxa, four new genera of radiolarians are introduced: Bernoulliella, Eohexastylus, Ticinosphaera and Lahmosphaera.
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01/10/2012 15:13
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20/08/2019 16:10
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