Age, internal stratigraphic architecture and structural style of the Oligocene–Miocene Numidian Formation of northern Tunisia

Sami Riahi, Mohamed Soussi, Kmar Ben Ismail Lattrache

Abstract


The stratigraphy of the Numidian Formation of northern Tunisia and its internal organization are updated. Planktonic foraminifera point to a mainly Oligocene–Early Miocene age of this formation in the majority of the sections studied. Some key lithological horizons are recognized within the early Miocene succession, allowing lateral correlation between the outcrops of the Mogod and Kroumirie mountains. These include: (1) a conglomeratic interval, up to 1–2 m thick and rich in reworked glauconitic boulders, limestone fragments of the Tellian (Eocene) and pectinid bivalves; and (2) a relatively continuous glauconitic level. In the new stratigraphic scheme, the Zouza, Ben Metir and Sejnene sections represent the entire Numidian Formation. A lower unit (200–700 m thick), highly pelitic with subordinate sandstone beds was distinguished, overlain by an upper unit which is sandier, especially in its uppermost part (1,000–1,500 m thick). In the present study, these have been stratigraphically dated as Oligocene–Early Miocene p.p. (Rupelian–Chattian; P19–P21 zones) to Aquitanian (N4 Zone) and Miocene (Aquitanian–early Burdigalian; N4–N5 zones), respectively. In the areas studied, the sandy succession assigned to the Kroumirie Member begins with a sandstone unit with an erosional base or a major discontinuity, locally marked by conglomerates made up of various reworked components. It rests generally on a thick shale unit that characterises the upper part of the Zouza Member. The thinner, uppermost succession of the Numidian Formation represents the Babouch Member, dated as Burdigalian (N6–N7 zones).

Within the framework of the new proposal, the total stratigraphic thickness of the Numidian Formation in northern Tunisia does not exceed 2,200–2,600 m.

Internally, the Numidian Formation is transected by the Intra-Numidian Thrust and back-thrust faults, associated with faulted folds that are recognized in outcrop on different scales and in seismic sections. Along these thrust and/or reverse faults, the middle to upper Eocene deposits have undergone uplift and are exposed at the surface (e.g., Dowar Larmel in Meloula-Tabarka, Gaâret Sejnene and Sidi M’chreg sections).

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