The Upper Aptian to Lower Albian syn-rift carbonate succession of the southern Maestrat Basin (Spain): facies architecture and fault-controlled stratabound dolostones

J. D. Martin-Martin*, E. Gomez-Rivas, T. Bover-Arnal, A. Trave, R. Salas, J. A. Moreno-Bedmar, S. Tomas, M. Corbella, A. Teixell, J. Verges, S. L. Stafford

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Syn-rift shallow-marine carbonates of Late Aptian to Early Albian age in the southern Maestrat Basin (E Spain) register the thickest Aptian sedimentary record of the basin, and one of the most complete carbonate successions of this age reported in the northern Tethyan margin. The host limestones (Benassal Formation) are partially replaced by dolostones providing a new case study of fault-controlled hydrothermal dolomitization. The syn-rift sediments filled a graben controlled by normal basement faults. The Benassal Fm was deposited in a carbonate ramp with scarce siliciclastic input. The lithofacies are mainly characterized by the presence of orbitolinid foraminifera, corals and rudist bivalves fauna. The succession is stacked in three transgressive-regressive sequences (T-R) bounded by surfaces with sequence stratigraphic significance. The third sequence, which is reported for the first time in the basin, is formed by fully marine lithofacies of Albian age and represents the marine equivalent to the continental deposits of the Escucha Fm in the rest of the basin.

The dolomitization of the host rock is spatially associated with the basement faults, and thus is fault-controlled. The dolostone forms seismic-scale stratabound tabular geobodies that extend several kilometres away from the fault zones, mostly in the hanging wall blocks, and host Mississippi Valley Type (MVT) deposits. The dolostones preferentially replaced middle to inner ramp grain-dominated fades from the third T-R sequences consisting of bioclastic packestones and peloidal grainstones. Field and petrology data indicate that the replacement took place after early calcite cementation and compaction, most likely during the Late Cretaceous post-rift stage of the basin. The dolostone registers the typical hydrothermal paragenesis constituted by the host limestone replacement, dolomite cementation and sulfide MVT mineralization. The Aptian succession studied provides a stratigraphic framework that can be used for oil exploration in age-equivalent rocks, especially in the Valencia Trough, offshore Spain. Moreover, this new case study constitutes a world class outcrop analogue for similar partially stratabound, dolomitized limestone reservoirs worldwide. (c) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-236
Number of pages20
JournalCretaceous Research
Early online date4 Feb 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Aptian
  • carbonate platform
  • fault-controlled
  • dolomitization
  • Maestrat basin
  • Mesozoic extensional tectonics
  • ranges Eastern Spain
  • Iberian chain
  • sequence stratigraphy
  • controlled dolomitization
  • depositional sequences
  • crustal evolution
  • Northern Oman
  • platform
  • subsidence


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