Abstract

Diverse, abundant and usually well-preserved communities of skeletal organisms occur in the lower Pleistocene (Gelasian) siliciclastic deposits of the Greek island of Rhodes. Benthic foraminifers, molluscs and bryozoans have been studied in four measured and sampled sections located in the northern part of the island. Among these bottom-dwelling organisms, numerous extant taxa are good environmental indicators and, combined with field observations and sedimentological data, they provide information on the probable conditions in which they developed. The siliciclastic deposits of the Kritika Formation have been divided into 14 different bio- and lithofacies, which have been further grouped into four facies associations corresponding to four different environmental settings: (1) continental to fluviatile; (2) brackish-water (lagoonal/deltaic); (3) infralittoral (0–20 m); and (4) upper circalittoral (depths of 20–40 m, but also down to c. 50–60 m). Among the marine facies associations, several characteristic biocoenoses have been recognized: soft-bottoms (fine to coarse sands and gravels); seagrass meadows; biogenic calcareous crusts on drowned beachrock slabs; red algal rhodoliths; and bivalve shell beds. In the studied sections, 13 superimposed genetic sequences have been documented. The repetition of similar facies associations within each sequence suggests: (1) a possibly eustasy-controlled, cyclic sedimentation; (2) a general subsidence of Rhodes during the deposition of the studied facies associations; and (3) a mostly constant range of environmental conditions (i.e. sedimentation rates and temperature) throughout the Gelasian.

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