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Stratigraphic distribution and paleoecological significance of Early Jurassic (Pliensbachian-Toarcian) lithiotid-coral reefal deposits from the Central High Atlas of Morocco
- Brame, Hannah-Maria R., Martindale, Rowan C., Ettinger, Nicholas P., Debeljak, Irena, Vasseur, Raphaël, Lathuilière, Bernard, Kabiri, Lahcen, Bodin, Stéphane
- Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology 2019 v.514 pp. 813-837
- Bivalvia, Pliensbachian age, Toarcian age, carbonates, corals, ecosystems, extinction, marine environment, paleoecology, taxonomy, Morocco
- During the Early Jurassic, a group of large, aberrant bivalves called lithiotids proliferated in proximal, shallow marine environments. These lithiotids formed bioherms and extensive biostromes in the western and southern margins of the Tethys Ocean as well as eastern Panthalassa. In the Central High Atlas of Morocco, Pliensbachian and Toarcian (Lower Jurassic) lithiotid and lithiotid-coral reefal deposits occur within carbonate and mixed carbonate/siliciclastic neritic depositional settings. This study describes the stratigraphic distribution, taxonomy, and architecture of these lithiotid-rich deposits.The studied lithiotid and lithiotid-coral deposits from Morocco occur in sheltered, near-shore lagoons along tropical carbonate ramps and platforms. These facies are abundant in upper Pliensbachian strata as well as in the early Toarcian. The persistence and similarity of lithiotid-coral buildups across the stage boundary indicate that these ecosystems were not significantly affected by the Pliensbachian/Toarcian extinction in Morocco (at least, not until the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event). In both the upper Pliensbachian and lower Toarcian, lithiotids (Lithioperna and Cochlearites) are frequently associated with phaceloid corals (Retiophyllia in the Pliensbachian and Phacellophyllia and Archaeosmiliopsis in the Toarcian) and solitary corals (Haimeicyclus and Archaeosmilia) as well as other corals and bivalves (Gervilleioperna, Mytiloperna, Opisoma, and rare megalodontids); however, the spatial distribution of taxa is patchy. The close association of lithiotid bivalves and corals is rarely documented in the literature, and lithiotid-coral reefal deposits are rare. Thus, these Moroccan biostromes and bioherms that record the interaction of corals and lithiotids are of particular scientific importance. Furthermore, multiple generations and successions of lithiotid-coral framestones can be observed in both Pliensbachian and Toarcian strata, which provide insight into the evolution of these communities and their resilience to ecosystem perturbations. Despite the success of lithiotid-coral communities in the Pliensbachian and Toarcian, these ecosystems were decimated by the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event and never recovered.