Palynology of the Cenomanian Raha Formation, Gulf of Suez, Egypt: Biostratigraphical, palaeoenvironmental and palaeobiogeographical implications

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Abstract

The current study presents a fully qualitative palynological investigation carried out on the Raha Formation encountered from three wells in the Bakr Oil Field of the Gulf of Suez, Egypt. Around 30 species of pteridophytic spores, 26 species of angiosperm pollen, 24 species of gymnosperm pollen and 27 species of dinoflagellate cysts have been recorded. However, achritarchs, microforaminiferal test linings and freshwater algae are impoverished and sparsely documented throughout the Raha Formation. Two palynozones have been identified based on some stratigraphically significant pollen and spores, arranged from youngest to oldest: (1) Palynozone I (Classopollis brasiliensis–Tricolpites sagax Assemblage Zone) of late Cenomanian age; (2) Palynozone II (Afropollis jardinus–Crybelosporites pannuceus Assemblage Zone) of early-middle Cenomanian age. The distribution and ecological affiliation of specific palynomorph species, as well as various palynofacies parameters, are interpreted. A shallow marine environment from supratidal to distal inner neritic under proximal suboxic–anoxic to dysoxic–anoxic shelf conditions is reconstructed. Palaeobiogeographically, the absence of elaters from the recovered taxa is interpreted in terms of minor floral variation. This may be attributed to climatic and/or an environment-controlled niche establishment, which possibly was shaped by the existence of a physical barrier hindering the distribution of such type of elaterate parent plants.

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