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Post-Turonian (Late Cretaceous) rudist-bearing limestones of the Nurra region in northwestern Sardinia (northern Tethyan margin) and in the central-southern Apennines and Apulia (central Tethyan domain) have recorded relevant changes in the characteristics of the carbonate platforms following the “middle” Cretaceous crisis events which affected the peri-Tethyan region as well as other regions worldwide.

Rudist bivalves became the dominant lithogenetic taxon owing to their proliferation in shallow-water environments and strong dominance of Late Cretaceous carbonate factories. Their inception, evolution, and demise were seemingly controlled by a complex interplay of environmental processes that, acting on a global scale, profoundly modified the Early Cretaceous hydrosphere-atmosphere system and forced Tethyan depositional systems to change their organization, internal architecture, and facies patterns. As a result, wide, open shelves developed where the almost ubiquitous mode of carbonate fixation was that of foramol factories.

In this paper, evidence of the remarkable regional variability in the rudist-bearing carbonate platforms of the Mediterranean Tethys is presented. The analysis of the resulting shallow-water facies has demonstrated that, in spite of several stratigraphic similarities and common sedimentological features, some remarkable differences occurred between the northern Tethyan margin and the central Tethyan banks as regards the areal partitioning of the main paleoecologic controlling factors. This resulted in the deposition of rhodalgal successions in Sardinia (northern Tethyan margin) and rudist-rich foramol facies in the Apennine-Apulia (central Tethys) regions, respectively. Such Late Cretaceous carbonate systems can be viewed as geological products which have closely and coherently recorded the globally changing environmental conditions of the oceanic realm. In spite of this, the difference of the facies partitioning in different Tethyan regions according to a latitudinal gradient is interpreted as derived mainly from local variable paleoceanographic and paleoclimatic conditions.

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