Oligocene Deep-Water Agglutinated Foraminifera from the Congo Fan, Offshore Angola: Palaeoenvironments and Assemblage Distributions
Agglutinated foraminiferal assemblages from the Oligocene section of an exploration well drilled in the distal part of the Congo Fan are fully documented and interpreted for palaeoenvironment. A total of 65 ditch cutting samples were analysed at 10 m intervals, from 3630 to 4270 m below rotary table. An average of 170 specimens were extracted per sample, with over 100 species being documented and described using SEM and light photography. The results reveal the most taxonomically diverse deepsea Oligocene fauna yet described. Six assemblages have been defined and analysed with Correspondence and 'Morphogroup' Analysis. These are 1. Nothia robusta / Reticulophragmium Assemblage (4110-4270 m), 2. Nothia robusta / Scherochorella congoensis / Discamminoides sp. 1 Assemblage (4000-4100 m), 3. High diversity Reticulophragmium Assemblage (3870-3990 m), 4. Portatrochammina profunda Assemblage (3790-3860 m), 5. Nothia latissima Assemblage (3730-3780 m) and 6. Low abundance Assemblage (3630-3720 m). Palaeobathymetric estimates range from middle - lower bathyal based on comparison with living taxa and morphogroup distributions. These results extend the known stratigraphic range (last occurrences) of Reticulophragmium amplectens into the Oligocene in the Atlantic, and possibly also Paratrochamminoides gorayskii, Paratrochamminoides olszewskii, Trochamminoides aff. proteus, Trochamminoides subcoronatus, Haplophragmoides horridus and Haplophragmoides walteri, although reworking is documented with these species. Results also extend the known first occurrences of Recurvoides azuaensis, Spiropsammina primula, Cyclammina aff. orbicularis, Discamminoides sp. and Glaphyrammina americana into the Oligocene. Large scale variations within faunas are largely assigned to documented variations in sand content, where higher proportions of sand generally coincide with reduced diversity and abundance along with a dominance of opportunistic species such as Nothia robusta, Nothia latissima and Ammodiscus latus. A major excursion in the infaunal morphogroup, suspension-feeding morphogroup and diversity and abundance within Assemblage 2 is termed the 'Scherochorella Event', and does not correlate with an increase in sand. This fauna is thought to be the result of lower oxygen conditions allowing the dominance of the low oxygen morphotype Scherochorella congoensis and the opportunistic species Nothia robusta. Deep-water circulation in the Atlantic at this time is generally thought to have been strong, and this event suggests that there may have been a temporary expansion of the oxygen minimum zone during the Late Oligocene, coinciding with increased benthic δ18O values, global cooling, and increased upwelling associated with a stronger polar front. The otherwise high diversity of the fauna in the well supports the interpretation of well-oxygenated conditions.
We would like to thank BP Exploration for their support in fully funding this project.
Seventh International Workshop on Agglutinated Foraminifera, Urbino, Italy, October 2-8, 2005
Proceedings of the Seventh International Workshop on Agglutinated Foraminifera. Grzybowski Foundation Special Publication,Vol. 13, pp. 107 - 156