Deep-sea hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbon seeps host unique ecosystems relying on geochemical energy rather than photosynthesis. Whereas the fossil and evolutionary history of these ecosystems is increasingly well known from the Cretaceous onward, their earlier history remains poorly understood and brachiopods are considered to have played a dominant role during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic. Here we report five new hydrocarbon-seep deposits from the Upper Triassic Kasımlar shales in southern Turkey. The pyritiferous seep limestones predominantly consist of 13C-depleted micrite with δ13C values as low as –10.4‰, and contain only sparse 13C-depleted rim cement (δ13C as low as –12.0‰), interpreted to result from the recrystallization of banded and botryoidal crystal aggregates of fibrous cement. The geologic ages of the studied seep deposits were determined as late Carnian and early Norian using conodonts. The associated fauna is dominated by modiomorphid and anomalodesmatan bivalves, and also includes a diversity of gastropods and the dimerelloid brachiopod Halorella. These faunal assemblages allow a comparison between seep faunas from the two major Triassic ocean basins—the present assemblages being from Tethys, and the only previously known examples being from eastern Panthalassa—and indicate that a cosmopolitan, seep-restricted fauna as in the present-day oceans has existed since the Late Triassic. With almost 20 species, the seep fauna of the Kasımlar shales approaches the diversity of Cretaceous to present-day seep faunas, further emphasizing the ecological similarity of seep faunas since the early Mesozoic. Our findings also highlight that brachiopods and bivalves had a more complex history of coexistence at seeps than currently appreciated.
Late Triassic mollusk-dominated hydrocarbon-seep deposits from Turkey