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Latest Miocene - Pliocene Larger Foraminifera and depositional environments of the carbonate bank of La Désirade Island, Guadeloupe (French Antilles)
Revue de Micropaléontologie
In this paper we present first results of the study of planktonic Foraminifera, large benthic Foraminifera and carbonate facies of La Désirade, aiming at a definition of the age and depositional environments of the Neogene carbonates of this island. The study of planktonic Foraminifera from the Detrital Offshore Limestones (DOL) of the Anciènne Carrière allows to constrain the biochronology of this formation to the lower Zone N19 and indicates a latest Miocene to early Pliocene (5.48 - 4.52 Ma) age. Large benthic Foraminifera were studied both as isolated and often naturally split specimens from the DOL, and in thin sections of limestones from the DOL and the Limestone Table (LT). The assemblages of Foraminifera include Nummulitidae, Amphisteginidae, Asterigerinidae, Peneroplidae, Soritidae, Rotalidae (Globigerinidae: Globigerinoides, Sphaeroidenellopsis, Orbulina) and incrusting Foraminifera (Homotrema and Sporadotrema). The genera Amphistegina, Archaias and Operculina are discussed. Concerning the Nummulitidae we include both "Paraspiroclypeus" chawneri and "Nummulites" cojimarensis, as well as a newly described species, Operculina desiradensis new species, in the genus Operculina, because the differences between these 3 species are rather on the specific than the generic level, while their morphology, studied by SEM, is compatible with the definition of the genus Operculina (D'Orbigny1826, emend. Hottinger 1977). The three species can be easily distinguished on the basis of their differences in spiral growth: while O. desiradensis has an overall logarithmic spiral growth, O. cojimarensis and especially O. chawneri show a tighter and more geometric spiral growth. O. cojimarensis and O. chawneri were originally described from Cuba in outcrops originally dated as Oligocene and later redated as early Pliocene. Therefore, O. chawneri was considered until now as restricted to the early Pliocene. However, in the absence of a detailed morphometric and biostratigraphic study of the Caribbean Neogene nummulitids, it is difficult to evaluate the biochronologic range of these species.The history of the carbonates begins with the initial tectonic uplift and erosion of the Jurassic igneous basement of La Désirade, that must have occurred at latest in late Miocene times, when sea-level oscillated around a long term stable mean. The rhythmic deposition of the Désirade Limestone Table (LT) can be explained by synsedimentary subsidence in a context of rapidly oscillating sea-level due to precession-driven (19-21 kyr) glacio-eustatic sea-level changes during the latest Miocene- Pliocene. Except for a thin reef cap present at the eastern edge of the LT, no other in-place reefal constructions have been observed in the LT. The DOL of western Désirade are interpreted as below wave base gravity deposits that accumulated beneath a steep fore-reef slope. They document the mobilisation of carbonate material (including Larger Foraminifera) from an adjacent carbonate platform by storms and their gravitational emplacement as debris and grain flows. The provenance of both the reefal carbonate debris and the tuffaceous components redeposited in the carbonates of La Désirade must be to the west, i. e. the carbonate platforms of Marie Galante and Grande Terre.
: La Désirade, French Antilles, Larger Foraminifera, Operculina, planktonic Foraminifera, shallow water carbonates/marls, Miocene-Pliocene.
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