Olenekian (Early Triassic) fossil assemblage from eastern Julian Alps (Slovenia)

Tea Kolar-Jurkovšek, Valery J. Vuks, Dunja Aljinović, Michael Hautmann, Andrzej Kaim, Bogdan Jurkovšek


New palaeontological and sedimentological data from the Lower Triassic strata of the eastern Julian Alps in Slovenia are presented., They are unusual for the Early Triassic of the Alps in representing a relatively deeper, unrestricted marine (mid-ramp) setting. There are two basic microfacies types in the section investigated (types A and B), which are organized as couplets with coarse-grained tempestitic deposits (microfacies A), overlain by laminated or bioturbated lime mudstones and/or marls (microfacies B), frequently containing ammonoids. This pattern is interpreted as storm deposition with occasional winnowing of bottom sediments and the formation of coarse-grained skeletal deposits (lags), followed by the slow settling of suspended particles, when the storm waned, in addition to background deposition. Dominantly lime mud deposition and the presence of ammonoids indicate deposition on a more distal, deeper ramp with an unrestricted connection to the open sea. Intense reworking of bottom skeletal-rich sediment and accumulation of storm lags suggest deposition above the storm wave base, possibly in a wide low-energy mid-ramp environment. Faunas from such settings have been reported relatively rarely from the Early Triassic of the Alps. The macrofauna contains ammonoids, bivalves and gastropods, whereas the microfauna is represented by foraminifer tests and conodont elements; rare fish remains also occur. In the foraminifer assemblages, species of Ammodiscus, Hoyenella, Glomospirella dominated, corresponding to the widespread “Glomospira-Glomospirella” foraminifer community, with some miliolids and nodosariids. The conodont fauna is characterized by Triassospathodus hungaricus (Kozur et Mostler), indicating an early Spathian (Olenekian) age. The fossil assemblage highlights the wide distribution of Early Triassic taxa in the Tethys and facilitates its worldwide correlation. Its relatively low diversity by comparison with shallow marine settings is interpreted as an evolutionary proximal-distal trend in the wake of the end-Permian mass extinction. Re-diversification first occurred in nearshore settings and expanded into deeper/distal marine environments through geological time.

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