Abstract

A sedimentological investigation of the Neogene deposits of the Zagros foreland basin in SW Iran reveals a continuous and largely gradational passage from supratidal and sabkha sediments at the base (represented by the Gachsaran Formation) to carbonates and marine marls (Mishan Formation with basal Guri carbonate member) followed by coastal plain and meandering river deposits (Agha Jari Formation) and finally to braided river gravel sheets (Bakhtyari Formation). This vertical succession is interpreted to represent the southward migration of foreland basin depozones (from distal foredeep and foredeep to distal wedge-top and proximal wedge-top, respectively) as the Zagros fold–thrust belt migrated progressively southward towards the Arabian foreland. This vertical succession bears a striking similarity to modern depositional environments and sedimentary deposits observed in the Zagros region today, where one passes from mainly braided rivers in the Zagros Mountains to meandering rivers close to the coast, to shallow marine clastic sediments along the northern part of the Persian Gulf and finally to carbonate ramp and sabkha deposits along the southeastern coast of the Persian Gulf. This link between the Neogene succession and the modern-day depositional environments strongly suggests that the major Neogene formations of the Zagros foreland basin are strongly diachronous (as shown recently by others) and have active modern-day equivalents.

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