Abstract

The Ben Zireg anticline NW of Bechar yields the currently most-important Frasnian succession on the northern margin of the Algerian Sahara. It represents 26.5 m of calcilutites which are attributed to the middle–late Frasnian. As the early Frasnian is not represented, the succession rests conformably on undifferentiated, probably late Givetian, substrate. Fine-scaled conodont biostratigraphy reveals a continuous sequence of Montagne Noire Zones 5–13, superseded by the earliest Famennian Lower triangularis Zone. The deposits are organized into 15 sedimentary cycles that are initially condensed and become dilated upwards. Conodont biofacies indicate an overall deepening towards the top of the section with an episode of slight shallowing at the MN11/12 transition marked by an increase of ancyrodellids, which is also seen in the Marhouma section of the Ougarta region (SW Algeria). Homogeneous calcareous microfacies with only a few shaly intercalations determine a predominantly oxygenated depositional environment on an outer platform, submarine rise or ramp setting. This is also indicated by relatively low sedimentation rates which are similar in selected sections from the Tafilalt platform, and contrast with those from the Marhouma trough and the Maider basin. Unlike other Frasnian successions south of the Atlas Fault, but similar to the Moroccan Meseta, the Upper Kellwasser horizon is clearly discriminated at Ben Zireg by an outstanding occurrence of black shales on top of the oxygenated latest Frasnian deposits.

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