Palaeoenvironmental evolution of the Southern Alps across the Faraoni Level equivalent: new data from the Trento Plateau (Upper Hauterivian, Dolomites, N. Italy)

Alexander Lukeneder, Patrick Grunert


New stratigraphic and palaeoenvironmental data are presented for the northeastern part of the Trento Plateau (Puez area, Southern Alps, Italy). The studied section corresponds to the upper Hauterivian Balearites balearis and “Pseudothurmannia ohmi” ammonite zones and normal palaeomagnetic chron upper M5. A c. 30-cm-thick bed is identified as the equivalent of the Faraoni Level, based on its position within the Pseudothurmannia mortilleti Subzone, the composition of its ammonite fauna and the peak of a minor positive trend in the δ 13C bulk record. Microfacies and geochemical proxies compare well with those of the southeastern part of the Trento Plateau and indicate palaeoceanographic continuity along the eastern margin of the plateau. The abundances of radiolarians and nannoconids suggest a turnover in the trophic structure from eutrophic conditions around the Faraoni Level equivalent to oligotrophic conditions. Low organic matter and sulphur content and frequent bioturbation indicate a well-oxygenated environment.

Ammonite diversity and life-habitat groups document the influence of sea level on the plateau: while epi-  and mesopelagic ammonites occur commonly during sea-level highstands, all life-habitat groups become reduced during a sea-level lowstand in the Spathicrioceras seitzi and P. ohmi subzones. The Faraoni event is heralded by a faunal turnover expressed as the diversification of epipelagic ammonites.

Palaeoenvironmental conditions along the eastern margin of the Trento Plateau during the Faraoni event contrast with those of the organic-rich black shales in the west. A re-evaluation of the depositional model based on the new results suggests a general water depth of 300–500 m for the plateau. The severe reduction of mesopelagic ammonites during the sea-level lowstand indicates a shallowing towards the epi-/mesopelagic boundary. During the Faraoni event, the eastern areas of the Trento Plateau were located at the upper limit of the oxygen-minimum layer and were thus only occasionally affected by oxygen depletion, whereas the western areas were located well within
the upper part of the oxygen-depleted layer.


Lower Cretaceous; Hauterivian; Faraoni oceanic anoxic event; Trento Plateau; Dolomites; Italy

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