, 64:29 | Cite as

The mid-Cretaceous Debarsu Formation (Upper Albian–Middle Turonian) of Central Iran: depositional environment, palaeogeography, and sequence stratigraphic significance

  • Markus WilmsenEmail author
  • Marisa Storm
  • Franz Theodor Fürsich
  • Mahmoud Reza Majidifard
  • Felix Schlagintweit
  • Malcolm Hart
Original Article


The Upper Albian–Turonian Debarsu Formation in its type area around Haftoman, south of Khur (Central Iran) has been investigated using an integrated approach of high-resolution logging, bio- and sequence stratigraphic dating, and facies analysis based on field observations and detailed microfacies studies. The up to 500-m-thick Debarsu Formation consists of stacked, several 10- to ~ 100-m-thick, essentially asymmetric shallowing-upward cycles from grey offshore marl via skeletal and intraclastic limestone with large-scale clinoformed foresets to thick-bedded bioclastic, locally rudist-bearing shallow-marine topset strata capped by palaeokarst surfaces. The diverse (micro)facies inventory (29 facies types) is dominated by skeletal carbonates (bioclastic pack-, grain-, float- and rudstone) that reflect deposition on a carbonate ramp with a lagoonal shoreline that was attached to an elevated area in the west and southwest. The outer ramp facies association of the Debarsu ramp contains predominantly microbioclastic marl with open-marine microfossils (planktic foraminifera) and fine-grained bioturbated packstone. The transition into the mid-ramp facies association, dominated by bioclastic pack- and grainstone (foreset strata), is commonly gradational. The inner-ramp facies association is very diverse, mainly consisting of high-energy (well-washed and cross-bedded) grainstone as well as back-ramp or inter-shoal bioclastic float- and rudist bafflestone. The Debarsu Formation occurs in an area of more than 2500 km2 to the west, southwest, and south of Khur but had its depocenter with maximum thicknesses and thick offshore marl intervals in the type area. The large-scale shallowing-upward cycles correspond to third-order depositional sequences. The chronostratigraphic positions of the sequence-bounding unconformities in the Upper Albian to Lower Cenomanian match equivalent surfaces known from other Cretaceous basins on different tectonic plates. However, a large-scale intraformational stratigraphic gap (Middle Cenomanian to lowermost Turonian) at a major palaeokarstic surface in the upper part of the formation must be related to tectonic uplift. The Debarsu Formation shows similarities in (sequence) stratigraphic stacking patterns to hydrocarbon-bearing formations of the southern Tethyan margin (Arabian Plate).


Mid-Cretaceous Microfacies analysis Carbonate ramp Palaeogeography Depositional sequences 



Constructive reviews by B. Granier (Brest) and K. Seyed-Emami (Tehran) as well as the professional editorial handling by M.E. Tucker (Bristol) are gratefully acknowledged. MW and FTF thank the Geological Survey of Iran (GSI, Tehran) and the Darius programme (UPCM, Paris) for support of the studies in Iran. This paper is also a contribution to German Research Foundation (DFG) project Wi 1743/6-1 and/6-2. Valuable comments and suggestions of T. Steuber (Abu Dhabi) and M. Simmons (Oxfordshire) considerably improved an earlier version of the manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Wilmsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marisa Storm
    • 2
    • 7
  • Franz Theodor Fürsich
    • 3
  • Mahmoud Reza Majidifard
    • 4
  • Felix Schlagintweit
    • 5
  • Malcolm Hart
    • 6
  1. 1.Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen DresdenMuseum für Mineralogie und Geologie, Sektion PaläozoologieDresdenGermany
  2. 2.Departments of Earth SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Fachgruppe PaläoumweltFriedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-NürnbergErlangenGermany
  4. 4.Research Institute for Earth SciencesGeological Survey of IranTehranIran
  5. 5.MunichGermany
  6. 6.School of Geography, Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  7. 7.Departments of Earth SciencesUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa

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